Twitter Moves to Reduce Reach of ‘State-affiliated’ Media


Twitter on Thursday unveiled new steps to curb the spread of content from “state-affiliated media” used to advance a government’s political agenda — a move affecting key outlets from Russia and China.

The US social platform said it would add new labels to these accounts and would “no longer amplify” their tweets through its recommendation systems, in the latest move to identify and limit the spread of government-led influence campaigns.

A Twitter spokesperson said outlets affected by the new policy include Russian-based Sputnik and RT and China’s Xinhua, but did not provide a full list.

The Twitter move affects media “where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution,” the company said in a statement.

“Unlike independent media, state-affiliated media frequently use their news coverage as a means to advance a political agenda. We believe that people have the right to know when a media account is affiliated directly or indirectly with a state actor.”

Twitter said the decision would not affect “state-financed media organizations with editorial independence,” specifically citing the British-based BBC and US-based National Public Radio.

For accounts with the state-affiliated media label, Twitter will offer a link to an article explaining the policy and referring them to its “transparency report.”

Twitter’s announcement follows a similar action by Facebook earlier this year which labeled content from media which are editorially controlled by governments.

The moves by Twitter and Facebook come amid concerns over campaigns by governments aimed at influencing elections and public sentiment in other countries through media outlets that disguise their true origins.

State-led influence campaigns were prominent on social media during the 2016 US elections and have been seen around the world.

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© AFP 2020

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