Twitter begins labeling tweets from government officials and state-affiliated media outlets

Twitter will expand to 'a wider range of countries in the future'

Twitter on Thursday announced that it will start labeling tweets from accounts belonging to "key government officials" besides President Trump. The company will also no longer recommend tweets from state-affiliated media.

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The move comes as the social media platform has faced scrutiny for flagging the president's tweets over violations of its policies around disinformation and abusive behavior while choosing not to flag tweets from other government officials.

Twitter said in a blog post that it will now add labels to "accounts of key government officials, including foreign ministers, institutional entities, ambassadors, official spokespeople, and key diplomatic leaders," as well as "accounts belonging to state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and/or their senior staff."

A spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz, R.-Texas, who has long criticized Twitter for censoring certain political voices and since joined alternative social media website Parler, said the labels "do little to assure the American people that Twitter is impartial."

"Big Tech and their Silicon Valley billionaire overlords have stacked the deck against the American people by silencing those with whom they disagree," the spokesperson said.

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The spokesperson added that while "Twitter continues to use its ubiquitous platform to target the President of the United States and push Democratic talking points," it is "illegally providing its platform and services for Iran’s [supreme leader] Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

The social media site's new labeling policy focus will be on "senior officials and entities that are the voice of the nation-state abroad, specifically the account categories listed above." It will not, however, label posts from heads of state such as Khamenei, who has called for the "elimination" of Israel on the platform.

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The company came under fire last week after it defended its decision to not flag tweets from Khamenei. Cruz sent a letter to the Treasury and Justice Departments in May calling for an investigation into Twitter for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran by allowing Khamenei's tweets to stay on the website without any kind of labels.

"Sen. Cruz will continue working with the administration and his colleagues in the Senate to enforce U.S. sanctions and hold Big Tech accountable to the American people," the spokesperson said.

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Twitter said in the blog post that it will only add labels to tweets belonging to officials from countries "represented in the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States."

The company will expand labels to "a wider range of countries in the future." Twitter has so far only added labels to tweets from Trump and Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.

In the most recent instance taken against a post from the president, Twitter labeled one of his tweets from June 23 for violating its policies against abusive behavior. Trump declared in the post that protesters attempting to build an "autonomous zone" in Washington, D.C., would "be met with serious force!"

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Twitter also removed a video clip that the president's campaign tweeted on Wednesday which  falsely states that children are "almost immune" from COVID-19 -- for violating its policies against COVID-19 misinformation.

Thursday's announcement from Twitter highlights efforts from the social media giant to crack down on some of its users with the biggest platforms and global influence while keeping their statements available for the public to see.

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