More Labels To Identify Accounts Of World Leader And Government Accounts To Be Added By Twitter

New labels to clearly identify more state-affiliated accounts, including the personal accounts of world’s leaders’ would be started by the social media platform Twitter from next week, the company said. The aim of this move is to provide greater clarity and context to users when they engage in any geopolitical conversation on the micro blogging platform.

This measure by Twitter comes at a time when the social media platform is under the scanner over its approach to prominent figures and government following the high profile banning of the account of the former president of the United States Donald Trump and with platform at loggerheads with politicians and governments in Myanmar and India.

The company also decided to start labelling of the state-affiliated media outlets such as Russia’s Sputnik and China’s Xinhua News back in August last year. The company also started labelling accounts and tweets from some of the key government officials form the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Now its labelling program will be expanded further to include key government officials and institutions that were “the voice of the nation state abroad” from the G7 countries as well as from a majority of the countries where the company has identified what it defined as  state-linked information operations, the company said in a blog post.

“US Government organization” or “US Government official” were the kind of labels put up by Twitter under the expansion plan as a part of its mock drill.

No labelling would be done in countries where government was in dispute, said Nick Pickles, the global public policy director of Twitter, when asked to explain the process that the company would use to determine government labels in political situations such as in Myanmar where the country’s military has taken over the government in a coup recently.  

“We will take into account the international discussion about legitimacy of the government when we are considering if it’s appropriate to apply these labels,” Pickles said in an interview.

Pickles said that only verified accounts will be added with the labels. He cited the example of the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose Twitter account and tweets would not be labelled because his is not a verified account while that if the country’s foreign minister would be labelled.

Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates are the new countries where Twitter accounts of senior officials and institutions will be labelled.

The personal accounts of the heads of state from these countries as well as those from the heads of state from these countries of the UN Security Council would be labelled as these accounts are used for diplomacy, Twitter also said.

Typically, Twitter has followed a policy of exempting the rule breaking content from world leaders from being removed as the company views such tweets to have been made in the public interest. Instead the company adds warning notices while also reducing the reach of such controversial posts.

(Adapted from HindustanTimes.com)

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