Twitter will label state-affiliated accounts worldwide

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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US microblogging Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said the social media platform intends to expand the labeling of state-affiliated accounts around the world, while he defends the policy of enabling leaders in countries such as Iran and China to use Twitter.

State-affiliated media account labels provide additional background for accounts operated by certain government officials, state-affiliated media outlets and individuals closely associated with those organizations.

Mr. Dorsey made his remarks during the virtual Oslo Freedom Forum organized by Human Rights Foundation, a New York-based non-profit organization.

Last month, Twitter first revealed labeling, currently, it appears on relevant Twitter accounts from the five countries including China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US. This will be expanded into additional countries in the future.

Twitter has been commonly used by activists from countries like Saudi Arabia and China, often using aliases to broadcast human rights violations but has been criticized for failing to block bad agents from using so-called ‘bot’ accounts to disseminate misinformation.

Dorsey said, “The Company is using signals such as when batches of new accounts are created, and how quickly they begin tweeting about certain topics, to crack down on disinformation campaigns, while protecting activists under pseudonyms”.

“Pseudonymity is a built identity, and that’s what we want to value and protect,” he added.

Asked if Twitter was hypocritical to allow Iranian and Chinese leaders to use the platform despite governments limiting citizens’ access, Dorsey said there was value in “understanding how they think.”

He said, “It’s important … to know how the story of the regime is being told to the rest of the world”.

The label appears on the Twitter user profile page and on tweets sent and posted from these accounts. They contain information about the country associated with the account including whether it is operated by a government agency or a state-affiliated media outlet. Besides, these labels include a small flag icon to indicate the status of the account.