Twitter has announced Twitter will add labels to the personal accounts of heads of state and to verified accounts of officials in 16 additional countries from February 17, as it expands its policy on government-affiliated accounts.
The company will now be adding labels to verified accounts of the foreign ministers, institutional entities, official spokesperson, ambassadors, and key diplomatic leaders in 16 additional countries. The labels are meant to provide context for users to “have a more informed experience on Twitter.
Twitter has said it will also update the text in its labels to add more specificity and will even apply additional labels to the state-affiliated media accounts in the months ahead. The company has also stopped amplifying the tweets from accounts where a government exercises its control over editorial content through the financial resources, and even direct or indirect political pressures, and control production and distribution. This does not include the news outlets that obtain government funding.
This seems to be a complete change from the earlier statement by the company which said that it would not label the personal accounts of heads of state as such accounts already have widespread name recognition, public awareness, and media attention.
In August, Twitter had already started applying labels to government officials’ accounts to clearly identify them for users. It started with government officials in China, Russia, France, the UK, and the US, and is now adding Canada, Cuba, Egypt, Ecuador, Germany, Honduras, Iran, Italy, Indonesia, Japan, Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates from February 17th.
Twitter did not provide any details on whether it would apply additional protections to personal accounts of heads of state, but such protections do exist. In July, the accounts of dozens of companies and high-profile individuals were compromised during a massive breach that was part of a bitcoin-promoting scam, but the banned account of then-President Trump was unaffected. It turned out that Trump’s account enjoyed additional protections after the past incidents.
However, Trump was permanently banned from Twitter in January for inciting the deadly attack on the Capitol.