In a very subtle approach, Twitter has increased up its attempts to battle Russian propaganda about the state’s invasion of Ukraine.
Twitter’s head of site integrity, Yoel Roth, stated on Monday that the platform would start identifying connections to Russian state-affiliated news sites, such as the English-language Russia Today (RT) or the Russian state news agency TASS, to make that affiliation known. When someone tweets a link to an article from RT or TASS, for example, a warning box with an orange exclamation point and the wording “Stay Informed: This Tweet connects to a Russia state-affiliated media website” will show above it.
This is critical backdrop to understand since Russian President Vladimir Putin has used misinformation and propaganda to legitimize his invasion of Ukraine.
Since 2020, Twitter has designated the accounts of news organizations that function as Russian government mouthpieces, as Roth points out in his Twitter thread. Other outlets have taken a similar approach. These sources and their posts are similarly labeled as “state-controlled media” on Facebook and Instagram, however Meta-owned WhatsApp does not appear to have a similar policy (Mashable has reached out for clarification). YouTube also names videos from various sources, though a ProPublica investigation discovered that its labeling frequently misses content.
However, Twitter’s new branding is applied to tweets from anyone who shares a link to that website, not just the outlets themselves. According to Roth, Twitter opted to do this because it was receiving “more than 45,000 Tweets a day posting links to Russian state-affiliated media outlets” and the “Tweets sharing their content lacked evident context.”
The labeling links endeavor will start with Russian state-affiliated media, but Twitter says it will expand to other nations in the “coming weeks.” TASS has already covered the issue under the heading “Russian Foreign Ministry wants Twitter to identify Western media outlets as state-affiliated,” after its website was hacked with anti-war messaging on Monday. It doesn’t matter if the United States lacks state-run media. But, TASS, that’s fine.
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