Twitter has announced that it will soon be rolling out a new set of labels that will identify government personnel, including personal accounts of world leaders, government affiliated media outlets, consequential world leaders and institutions affiliated with central authorities of nations. The move is seemingly directed at identifying credible information sources in each nation, which would be particularly valuable in international geo-socio-political conversations. Interestingly, however, the new Twitter labels will apparently only apply to China, Russia, the G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, USA, UK) and a host of others, but not India.
At the moment, Twitter’s selection criteria behind the rollout of the new labels is not entirely clear. In a blog post explaining the move, Twitter states that the countries where the labels will be applicable have been identified by them as having “state-linked information operations”. It further explains, “Our focus is on senior officials, heads of state, and institutions that are the voice of the nation state abroad, specifically the account categories listed above. We believe this is an important step so that when people see an account discussing geopolitical issues from another country, they have context on its national affiliation, and are better informed about who they represent. We’re also focused on those within the respective administrations underneath the head of state that offer its policy perspective abroad.”
By its own measure and explanations, it seems a bit surprising that Twitter has not offered the same tool for public officials in India. The social media company presently finds itself in the middle of a political power struggle of sorts in India, after it reportedly refused to comply with the Indian central government’s request to ban accounts of a number of individuals, whom the government is said to have identified as voices of dissent — with reference to the ongoing farmer protests in India. In such a situation, adding authorised labels to accounts of key governments, news outlets and institutions affiliated with the central government would have seemed to be the ideal move forward for Twitter, since the label itself implies an authorised source of information.
As a result, it is not entirely clear as to exactly why did Twitter not include India in the list of countries where government officials and affiliated sources would get the additional verification label on their accounts. After alleging Twitter’s refusal to comply with the government’s requests, numerous government officials have encouraged Indians to come onboard Koo, an app founded by Indian entrepreneurs Aprameya Radhakrishna and Mayank Bidawatka that mimics Twitter but operates in vernacular languages. Twitter, on this matter, has maintained that it did not break laws and regulations in India, since the requests to block the said accounts did not come via court orders, but were instead communicated by ministry officials, instead.
As for Twitter’s new account labels, the company has announced that the same will apply for government officials in Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, alongside the aforementioned nine. Twitter has previously banned former United States President Donald Trump, after the latter was accused of causing the recent Capitol riots with a video that appeared to instigate the riot. Trump has since been banned by Twitter — a platform that he typically frequented to air his views on various matters.