Twitter is adding labels to accounts of state-affiliated media, gov't officials

Twitter has announced that it is introducing a new label for government officials and state-backed media organisations to help users make informed decisions. The labels will initially be added to officials representing the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, China, France, the UK, and the US, the company said.

Duvar English / Reuters

Twitter will label the accounts of state-affiliated media outlets, their senior staff and some key government officials, the company said in a blog post on Aug. 6.

The accounts of Russia’s Sputnik, RT, and China’s Xinhua News are among the media organizations that are getting the new label, according to a Twitter spokesman. He declined to provide a full list of entities.

The label has been already applied to Sputnik's Turkish service.

“We believe that people have the right to know when a media account is affiliated directly or indirectly with a state actor,” Twitter said in its blog. It will also stop amplifying these accounts or their tweets through its recommendation systems.

The social media company defined state-affiliated media as those where the state exercises editorial control through financial resources or political pressure, or control over production and distribution.

Twitter said that state-financed media outlets with editorial independence, such as NPR in the United States or the BBC in the United Kingdom, would not be labeled. A spokesman also confirmed there were no U.S. media outlets on the list.

The company said it was focusing its government official labels on senior officials and entities that represent the voice of the state abroad, such foreign ministers, official spokespeople and institutional entities. Labeled accounts will include @WhiteHouse, @StateDept, @Elysee, @10DowningStreet and @KremlinRussia.

The labels will at first only be applied to the officials from countries who are permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Twitter said the personal accounts of heads of states will not be labeled as there is public awareness of those individuals.

Twitter currently labels the accounts of candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate or Governor during the 2020 election cycle.

Facebook also said in June that it would start labeling state-controlled media organizations. In 2019, Twitter banned state-backed media advertising.