Twitter, today, announced that it will start labeling accounts of government officials and state affiliated media on the platforms. The company said it will focus on labeling “senior officials and entities” who are the “voice of the nation state abroad”. However, labels will only be applied to accounts from China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and the United States, the five permanent members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council.
The accounts will be of key government officials, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople and key diplomatic leaders. For state controlled media, Twitter will be labeling the companies’ own accounts, and those of their editors-in-chief and other senior staff.
“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,” the company said in a blog post. “At this time, we’re not labeling the personal accounts of heads of state, as these accounts enjoy widespread name recognition, media attention, and public awareness,” the company added. The company will also be labeling “institutional accounts associated with their offices that changeover depending on election results”.
Furthermore, in what could be a huge move, the company said it will no longer “amplify” the accounts of state affiliated media and or their tweets through its recommendation system, including the home timeline, notifications and search. This change won’t affect government accounts of spokespeople, leaders etc. though.
This could bring a big dent on the reach for such state-affiliated media. Twitter accounts, much like pages and posts on Facebook, depend on the platform’s recommendation algorithms for their reach. Actively disallowing such amplification can seriously dent a publication’s reach, almost equivalent to a shadow ban.
Lastly, clicking on these labels — which appear on the respective accounts’ profile pages — will direct users an article explaining Twitter’s policy and Transparency Report for additional information.