On Thursday, Twitter Inc said it would add labels next week to classify more state-affiliated accounts, including world leaders’ accounts, to give users more context for the platform’s geopolitical conversations. The move comes as the approach of Twitter to public figures and the government is under scrutiny after the high-profile ban on account of former US President Donald Trump and as political firestorms in Myanmar and India have erupted.
Twitter said in August that it would start labeling the accounts of state-affiliated media outlets such as Russia’s Sputnik and China’s Xinhua News, and the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council’s five central government officials: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
In a blog post, Twitter said it was extending its labels to key government officials and institutions from G7 countries and most countries where Twitter has defined state-linked information operations as “the voice of the nation-state abroad.” The global public policy director of Twitter, Nick Pickles, questioned how Twitter would assess government labels in the circumstances such as Myanmar, where the military recently seized power in a coup, said the company was not labeling countries where the government was in dispute.
Pickles said in an interview that we would consider the international debate about the legitimacy of the government as we believe if it is necessary to add these labels. Only checked accounts will be added to the labels, Pickles said. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, for instance, will not be given a mark in Iran at the moment because he is not confirmed, although the foreign minister would do so.
Twitter will also mark the personal accounts of these countries’ heads of state and permanent UN Security Council members, describing them as diplomacy accounts.
Twitter has typically exempted the rule-breaking content of world leaders from removal because it finds their messages in the public interest, rather than inserting warning notes and reducing the content’s scope. The way Twitter applied its account rules, Pickles said, will not be focused on these labels.