In brief: It’s no secret that social media platforms have been used for shady purposes in the past, particularly when it comes to politics and elections. To help boost transparency and reduce the risk of government entities misleading the public, Twitter plans to add labels to accounts that will reveal their political affiliation.
Twitter hopes this change will improve the quality of public discourse, and provide its users with context that will help them make “informed decisions” about what they see and “how they engage” on the platform.
That’s an admirable goal, and though it’s tough to say whether this move will accomplish it, it will certainly be a step in the right direction. More transparency is almost always a good thing, no matter which political party you happen to align with.
The labels in question won’t be particularly obtrusive. They’ll take the form of a simple, gray line of text that can be seen below a government or state-backed Twitter account’s username. You can see two different examples of this label above and below.
Initially, Twitter will only apply the label to accounts owned by “senior officials and entities” operating on behalf of China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US. More countries will be added to that list in the future, but Twitter says it wants to focus on the five permanent members of the UN Security Council for the time being.
Furthermore, Twitter promises to stop “amplifying” state-affiliated media accounts and their tweets through its recommendation system. This restriction doesn’t apply to other government accounts, however.
The wording of Twitter’s announcement implies these changes have already begun to roll out, but after checking a few high-profile government Twitter accounts (such as Donald Trump’s), that doesn’t appear to be the case. Either way, it probably won’t be long before the labels start appearing.