Feb 28, 2022 - Technology

Twitter will label all tweets with Russian state media links

Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Twitter on Monday said it will start labeling all tweets that contain content from Russian state-affiliated media websites. 

Why it matters: Twitter says most of the Russian state media content being shared on its platform comes from individuals sharing links to their websites, not the state media accounts themselves.

  • Since the invasion began, Twitter says more than 45,000 tweets per day have come from individuals on Twitter sharing links from those sites.

Details: The label will be applied automatically to any tweets that include a URL from a designated state-affiliated media website, a spokesperson confirmed.

  • Twitter will also reduce the visibility and amplification of any tweets that contain content from Russian state media links, meaning they won’t appear in Twitter's "Top Search" results and they won’t be recommended by Twitter.
  • Twitter will start first by adding the label to content posted from Russian state-affiliated media websites, but says it intends to add labels to links shared from state-backed media outlets from other countries in the coming weeks.

The big picture: It's the latest step taken by a tech platform to clamp down on Russian disinformation campaigns that aim to manipulate the conversation around Ukraine.

  • Twitter on Monday said it permanently suspended more than a dozen accounts and blocked the sharing of several links "that originated in Russia" and were "attempting to disrupt the public conversation around the ongoing conflict in Ukraine," which is a violation of its manipulation and spam policy.
  • On Sunday, Facebook parent Meta said it restricted access to several accounts in Ukraine, "including those belonging to some Russian state media organizations," at the request of the Ukrainian government. It also said it's reviewing other government requests to restrict Russian state-controlled media.
  • Hours later, Meta confirmed that it had removed and blocked two disinformation campaigns from its platforms that targeted Ukraine.
  • On Saturday, a YouTube spokesperson told Axios that the platform is “significantly limiting recommendations" to Russian state media channels.

Be smart: Google, its subsidiary YouTube and Facebook all said in the past few days that they would also limit the ability of Russian state-funded media to run ads or monetize on their platforms in response to the war in Ukraine.

  • Twitter on Friday also said it would temporarily pause advertisements in Ukraine and Russia. Twitter off-boarded advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik in 2017 and in 2019.

What to watch: Expect tech platforms to continue to evolve their policies in real time to address the conflict on the ground in Ukraine.

  • On Sunday, a Google spokesperson confirmed to Axios a Reuters report that it temporarily disabled some of its tools in Ukraine following the Russian military's invasion of the country.
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