Expanding our work to identify state-affiliated accounts

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Twitter is where people come to see what’s happening and to hear from their governments and government officials. We believe that safety and free expression go hand-in-hand, especially when interacting with these leaders and associated institutions, and adding context to what people see on Twitter helps them have a more informed experience on Twitter. 

In August 2020, we expanded account labels to two additional categories: 1) the accounts of key government officials and 2) accounts belonging to state-affiliated media entities. Included in this initial action were accounts from countries represented in the five permanent members of the UN Security Council

After receiving feedback on this initial action from a range of stakeholders — including civil society, academia, and those who use our service — on Wednesday, February 17, we will expand these labels to accounts from Group of Seven (G7) countries, and to a majority of countries that Twitter has attributed state-linked information operations to. We’ll also apply labels to the personal accounts of heads of state for these countries.

Here is the full phased plan:

Phase 1 Countries (August 2020)
China, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and United States

Phase 2 Countries (February 17, 2021)
Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates

We will add labels to the following categories of Twitter accounts:

  1. Verified accounts of key government officials, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders. At this time, our focus is on senior officials and entities who are the official voice of the state abroad;
  2. Personal accounts of heads of state, from phase 1 and phase 2 countries.

We’re also updating the label text to add more specificity to the government account labels by differentiating between individuals and institutions, and expanding labels to the personal accounts of heads of state to give people on Twitter additional context. 

As the next phase of this project, we will work to apply additional labels on state-affiliated media accounts over the next several months, taking an iterative approach to ensure we capture all relevant accounts.

Our principled approach

Our mission is to serve the public conversation and an important part of that work is providing people with context so they can make informed decisions about what they see and how they engage on Twitter. Twitter provides an unmatched way to connect with and directly speak to public officials and representatives.

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How do we define government accounts for these new labels?

Our focus is on senior officials, heads of state, and institutions that are the voice of the nation state abroad, specifically the account categories listed above. We believe this is an important step so that when people see an account discussing geopolitical issues from another country, they have context on its national affiliation, and are better informed about who they represent. We’re also focused on those within the respective administrations underneath the head of state that offer its policy perspective abroad.

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To offer even more context to the public, clicking on a label directs people to this article explaining the policy and referring them to the Twitter Transparency Report for additional information.

Notification and appeals process 

Twitter notifies accounts when they receive a label, and account owners can communicate with Twitter directly if they have feedback.

Next steps

The immediate next phase will be to apply these labels to state-affiliated media entities of these phase two countries. Beyond this, we will continue expanding labels to additional countries over time and look forward to providing additional updates as those plans take shape.

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