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Twitter adding labels, limits to Russian state media

Twitter application (Dreamstime/TNS)
February 28, 2022

On Monday, Twitter announced it is adding labels to tweets that include links to Russian state media sites, as well as moving to “significantly reduce” their circulation. The move will add “helpful context” to conversations relating to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Twitter said.

“Today, we’re adding labels to Tweets that share links to Russian state-affiliated media websites and are taking steps to significantly reduce the circulation of this content on Twitter,” tweeted Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of site integrity. “We’ll roll out these labels to other state-affiliated media outlets in the coming weeks.”

The label features an orange exclamation mark next to the words “Stay Informed,” as well as a message that states: “This link tweets to a Russia state-affiliated media website.” The label also includes a link to “find out more.”

“As people look for credible information on Twitter regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we understand and take our role seriously. Our product should make it easy to understand who’s behind the content you see, and what their motivations and intentions are,” he said in a separate tweet.

Roth said over 45,000 tweets have been posted every day sharing links to Russian state-affiliated media outlets since the invasion began on Thursday last week. He explained that while Twitter has labeled other state media outlet accounts for years, Russian media accounts “lacked visible context.”

“We’ve learned that labeling Tweets is another way we can add helpful context to conversations around some of the most critical issues, such as COVID-19 and elections happening around the world,” Roth wrote.

“This work builds on the numerous steps we’ve taken over the past week — from pausing ads in Ukraine and Russia, to launching timeline prompts with context about the crisis,” he continued in a separate tweet. “We remain vigilant and will keep you updated along the way.”

While Twitter cracks down on Russian state media, some have questioned why Russian President Vladimir Putin still has a Twitter account following the illegal invasion of Ukraine, noting that former President Donald Trump was banned from the platform in January 2021 for allegedly inciting the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol.

“Hey @jack… how is #Putin, this modern day #Hitler allowed to maintain a @Twitter account when you have permanently banned President Donald Trump?” tweeted Bernard B. Kerik, the 40th Police Commissioner of the New York City Police Department.

“Just a reminder that Putin still has an account on Twitter, but thousands of God-loving Americans do not because of censorship,” economist and Congressional candidate George Santos wrote on Twitter.