Twitter to label, limit visibility of Russian state media-linked tweets

Twitter (TWTR.N) announced on Monday that it is adding labels and lowering the visibility of tweets containing content from Russian state-affiliated media outlets such as RT and Sputnik.

It said it has received more than 45,000 tweets each day from users spreading these links since Russia invaded Ukraine on Thursday. According to Twitter, this means that the majority of content from state-affiliated media is shared by individuals rather than the state-affiliated media accounts it currently designates.

During the Ukraine crisis, state-run media, which has long been a problematic presence on major social media platforms, has emerged as a significant battleground in Moscow’s standoff with giant digital companies.

Russia announced last week that it will partially restrict Facebook for censoring its media, citing the company’s refusal to remove independent fact-checks and labels on content from some state-owned media organisations as the reason for the decision.

Twitter, which has been subjected to Russian site slowdowns, announced on Saturday that its service was being blocked for Russian users.

Google (GOOGL.O) and Meta (FB.O), both owned by Alphabet Inc., have also barred Russian state-controlled media from collecting money through advertisements on their platforms.

The label would be given automatically to any tweets with a URL from a recognised state-affiliated media outlet, according to Twitter. It will also make these tweets less visible by not promoting them to users and removing them from the ‘Top Search’ feature.

In 2020, the business began tagging and “de-amplifying” state-affiliated accounts from Russia and other countries. Following the U.S. presidential election in 2017, it stopped accepting advertising from RT and Sputnik accounts, and in 2019, it prohibited ads from all state-backed media.

Twitter said it will begin using the new labels on tweets linked to Russian official media content in the coming weeks, but that it planned to add more state-backed sites from other nations as well.

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