Twitter Will Start Labeling Accounts Belonging To Politicians, State-Controlled Media Outlets

The Twitter app on a mobile device
LoboStudioHamburg / Pixabay

Twitter announced on Thursday that it will start labeling accounts that belong to state-controlled media outlets, as well as those of some politicians, Reuters reported. The announcement follows a similar move by Facebook made weeks ago.

Multiple media agencies that use the social media platform to disseminate their content are actually controlled by governments. Those include, but are not limited to, Russia’s Sputnik and RT agencies, and China’s Xinhua News. Further, multiple individuals in the employ of such organizations also use Twitter.

Twitter said that users have a right to know when they’re reading something that’s being presented to them by a government-controlled entity.

“We believe that people have the right to know when a media account is affiliated directly or indirectly with a state actor,” the company said in a statement.

The social media platform did not provide a list of which news organizations or individuals that would be given a label. It did provide some qualifiers, namely, that an outlet is deemed “state-controlled media” if its editorial control is maintained through financial resources or political pressure, or control over production and distribution, by the state.

State-funded media outlets that operate with editorial independence, such as NPR in the U.S. or the BBC in the U.K., will not be considered state-controlled media. A spokesperson confirmed that no news outlets based in the U.S. are on the list of agencies that will be labeled.

an npr news employee in the building
  Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

As for the accounts belonging to individuals, the label will only be applied to officials from countries who are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: China, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S. Specifically, that means that the accounts @Elysee, @10DowningStreet and @KremlinRussia, among others, would get the label.

The personal accounts of individual politicians will not be labeled. In the U.S., that means that President Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account, @RealDonaldTrump, will not be labeled. However, the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse accounts, as well as @StateDept and others, will.

Similarly, the personal accounts of other foreign heads of state will not be flagged.

“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 said in the announcement, via CNN Business.

In early June, as reported at the time by The Inquisitr, Facebook enacted a similar plan to make its users aware of when the content they were seeing was being disseminated by a government-controlled actor or entity.