Twitter is a platform where people come to witness what is happening around them. They also use this platform to hear news and announcements from their governments and government officials.
However, the social media platforms on the internet have a lot of dangers. There are fake accounts, false information, and even scammers using these platforms to take advantage of other people. There are social media accounts that pretend to be owned by government officials to spread misinformation. While such can be prevented if social media platforms like Twitter take down fake accounts, that is not that easy. Taking down an account from any social media platform has to undergo a certain process. If not, some may say that these platforms are suppressing the freedom of expression.
Fortunately, Twitter believes that the safety of users and the freedom of expression go hand in hand. This is especially true when interacting with country leaders and associated institutions. It also believes that adding context to what users see on the platform will help them have a more informed experience when using Twitter.
Twitter Expanded Account Labels
Back in August last year, the social media giant Twitter expanded its account labels to two additional categories. The first one in the accounts of key government officials. On the other hand, the second category accounts for media entities affiliated with the state. Accounts that came from countries represented in the five permanent members of the UN Security Council were among the accounts included in this initial action.
Notably, the countries included in the first phase of adding labels were France, China, the United Kingdom, Russian Federation, and the United States.
After Twitter has received feedback on this initial action, Twitter expanded these labels to accounts from Group of Seven (G7) countries. The feedback came from different stakeholders, including academia, civil society, and those who use Twitter’s services. In addition, the labels were expanded to a majority of countries that the social media giant has attributed state-linked information operations to. Twitter will integrate these labels into the personal accounts of state heads for those countries.
Are People Buying Twitter Followers for Governments?
The countries where Twitter will add these labels for the second phase of the action are:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Moreover, Twitter will add labels to two categories of Twitter accounts. The first category is to verified accounts of key government officials. This includes institutional entities, foreign ministers, ambassadors, key diplomatic leaders, and official spokespeople. In addition, Twitter will focus on senior officials and entities who serve as the official voice of the state abroad.
On the other hand, the second category of Twitter accounts is the personal accounts of heads of state from both phase one and phase two countries. Many people wonder if individuals are actually buying Twitter followers for their local or favorite governments for fun.
The social media giant will also update the label text. This is to add more specificity to the labels for government accounts. In the update, Twitter will differentiate individuals and institutions. It will also expand labels to the personal accounts of heads of state. This move aims to provide people who use Twitter with additional context.
During the next phase of this project, Twitter will be working over the next months to add additional labels on media accounts affiliated with the state. It will also take an iterative approach to make sure that it will be able to capture all the relevant accounts.
According to Twitter, its mission is to serve the public conversation. And one important work to achieve this is to provide people with context. This way, they will make informed decisions about what they see and how they engage with other accounts on the platform. In addition, the social media giant is providing a way of connecting with and directly speaking to public representatives and officials.
How Twitter Detects Government Accounts for the New Labels
Twitter said that its focus for this new effort is senior officials, state heads, and institutions that serve as the voice of the nation-state abroad. These are specifically the aforementioned account categories.
The company believes that what it is doing now is an important step. When people see an account that discusses geopolitical issues from another country, they will have context on its national affiliation. As a result, they will be better informed about who these accounts represent.
Twitter also focuses on the accounts within the respective administration under the state head that offer ist policy perspective aboard.
To provide even more context to users, they can click the label to go to an article that explains the policy. Users will also be referred to the Twitter Transparency Report for added information.
Moreover, the social media giant will notify accounts once they receive a label. These account owners can also communicate directly with Twitter in case they have feedback.
Are There Any Next Steps?
Twitter noted that the immediate next phase is to apply the said labels to media entities affiliated to the states of the countries included in phase two. Apart from that, it will also continue to expand labels to other countries over time. Twitter will also look forward to providing people with additional updates while it is doing its plans.
There is no denying that Twitter values truthful information and freedom of expression. It also knows the importance of ensuring the safety of its platform’s users. With this new effort, everyone can make sure that they are getting factual information and interacting with legitimate accounts.