Twitter to add more labels to identify accounts of govt leaders, institutions

Twitter has said it will add labels to identify more government leaders and associated institutions from the next week to provide people with context to what they see and have a “more informed experience” on the microblogging platform.

Twitter said the roll-out will begin in Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates from February 17. India, however, was not part of the list.

In August last year, Twitter had expanded account labels to two additional categories the accounts of key government officials and those belonging to state-affiliated media entities. This also included accounts from countries represented in the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US).

“After receiving feedback on this initial action from a range of stakeholders including civil society, academia, and those who use our service on Wednesday, February 17, we will expand these labels to accounts from Group of Seven (G7) countries, and to a majority of countries that Twitter has attributed state-linked information operations to,” Twitter said in a blogpost on Thursday.

It added that these labels will also be applied to the personal accounts of heads of state for these countries.

“The immediate next phase will be to apply these labels to state-affiliated media entities of these phase two countries. Beyond this, we will continue expanding labels to additional countries over time and look forward to providing additional updates as those plans take shape,” it said.

Twitter has been facing flak over the past few weeks for accounts and posts with provocative content and misinformation around farmers’ protest. The government had issued a stern warning to the microblogging platform to comply with local laws or be prepared for action.

According to sources, Twitter has blocked over 97 per cent of the accounts and posts flagged by the IT ministry.

In its latest blogpost, Twitter said labels will be added to verified accounts of key government officials, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders. The focus being senior officials and entities “who are the official voice of the state abroad”, it added.

“We’re also updating the label text to add more specificity to the government account labels by differentiating between individuals and institutions, and expanding labels to the personal accounts of heads of state to give people on Twitter additional context,” it added.

Twitter said as the next phase of this project, it will work to apply additional labels on state-affiliated media accounts over the next several months, taking an iterative approach to ensure it captures all relevant accounts.

“Our mission is to serve the public conversation and an important part of that work is providing people with context so they can make informed decisions about what they see and how they engage on Twitter,” the company said.

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