Social media platform Twitter has started the process of labelling state-affiliated, state-controlled, or state-funded media accounts.
In an announcement on their blog yesterday, Twitter said they will label the accounts of key government officials including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders. For now, their focus will be on senior officials and entities who are the “official voice” of the state abroad.
Accounts belonging to media that is considered related to the state will also be labelled along with their editors in chief and senior staff.
Twitter said they will only apply labels to accounts from countries that are represented in the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US. The platform said that after these five countries have been addressed, they will expand to a wider range of countries in the future.
“We believe this is an important step so that when people see an account discussing geopolitical issues from another country, they have context on its national affiliation and are better informed about who they represent.”
Twitter defines state-affiliated media as any outlet where the state exercises control over the editorial content through financing, direct or indirect political pressure, control over production, and control over distribution. Unlike independent media, Twitter says that state-affiliated media frequently use news coverage as a means to advance a political agenda.
“We believe that people have the right to know when a media account is affiliated directly or indirectly with a state actor.”
They will also cease the amplification of state-affiliated media accounts or their tweets via Twitter’s recommendation systems.
The social media platform has taken a harsh stance towards fake news and propaganda in recent months. In April, it deleted some 20,000 fake accounts linked to the governments of a handful of countries. Serbia was found to have the most accounts removed with over 8000- more than half- being closed.
The Serbian network was responsible for over 43 million tweets, mostly in support of President Aleksander Vucic and ‘trolling’ his opponents.