Twitter applies "state-affiliated media" labels to Chinese and Russian news accounts, but not to the BBC

  • Twitter will now label state-affiliated media accounts in an effort to better inform users about the source of news, but the BBC will be treated as independent.

    Social media has become incredibly politicised in recent years, ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that social media micro-targeting had been used to potentially sway public opinion on major elections. Political advertising and fake news have become a serious problem on Facebook and other social media platforms.

    Twitter officially banned political advertising of all kinds last year as part of an effort to solve the problem on its platform, with specific exceptions for things like public safety announcements and general voting information. The platform has also taken a serious stance against Covid-19 misinformation, and has started labelling certain tweets containing misinformation.

    Yesterday the site announced that it will now be adding labels to certain Twitter accounts to show that they are state-affiliated people or organisations. This applies to key government officials and spokespeople, ambassadors and key diplomatic leaders, institutional entities, and "accounts belonging to state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and/or their senior staff."

    The blog explains that "State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution." The label has already been seen on media accounts relating to several countries, including China, Russia, and Germany.

    Twitter has made the decision that "State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, will not be labeled." The BBC is financially dependent on the UK government's license fee system, and has come under fire for perceived political bias in the past, but under Twitter's new guidelines it's treated as an independent media group.

    Source: Twitter blog

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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