Twitter to Start Labelling Personal Accounts of Heads of State

Twitter to Start Labelling Personal Accounts of Heads of State
Photo: Lionel Bonaventure, Getty Images

Starting next week, you should start seeing new labels on more government-run Twitter accounts as well as the personal accounts of heads of state. It’s part of Twitter’s latest expansion of its policy on government-affiliated accounts, with the idea being that this additional context should help users “have a more informed experience on Twitter,” the company said on Thursday.

Back in August, when Twitter first announced plans to label the accounts of key government officials and state-affiliated media entities, the company explicitly stated that personal accounts of government officials would be exempt “as these accounts enjoy widespread name recognition, media attention, and public awareness.” But after “receiving feedback” from stakeholders, Twitter appears to have reversed course on that.

The text for these labels is getting an update as well so that users can tell at a glance if a tweet’s from a government official versus an institution, per a blog post from Twitter Support.

Twitter is also rolling out its labels on government-affiliated accounts to 16 other countries. In its August announcement, only China, France, Russia the United Kingdom, and the United States made the list, but now Twitter’s adding Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates beginning on February 17.

Twitter said Thursday it plans to apply additional labels to state-affiliated media accounts in the coming months. It previously announced plans to stop amplifying accounts where a state-run body “exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” However, these labels don’t extend to outlets that receive government funding but still maintain editorial independence, such as NPR in America or the BBC in the UK.

While it may be long overdue, Twitter seems to finally be making decisive changes to ensure users are at least properly informed while they’re doomscrolling. The news follows Twitter’s permanent ban of former President Donald Trump in January after pro-Trump insurgents raided the Capitol Building in an attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.