Twitter To Expand Labelling Of State-Affiliated Accounts

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Twitter to expand policy of labelling state-affiliated accounts to more countries, amidst controversy over political disinformation

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey has said the company plans to expand the labelling of state-affiliated accounts to its worldwide operations.

The social media platform launched its policy of labelling accounts as state-affiliated last month, but initially applied it only to accounts from China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.

Speaking at the Oslo Freedom Forum, Dorsey said the labelling scheme would be expanded to more countries to give users context to information posted by state-affiliated accounts and to indicate “if there’s an agenda behind it”, Reuters reported.

The forum is hosted by the New York City-based nonprofit the Human Rights Foundation.


Disinformation

Dorsey lauded the use of Twitter by human rights activists, some of whom use pseudonyms, a practice which he said Twitter wants to protect.

“Pseudonymity is a built identity, and that’s what we want to value and protect,” he said.

He distinguished pseudonymous accounts from “bot” accounts used to spread disinformation, a practice Twitter is trying to crack down on.

The company uses information such as when batches of accounts are created and how quickly they begin posting on certain topics to identify automated accounts, Dorsey said.

He spoke of the Blue Sky project, announced by Twitter in December 2019, as another way Twitter is defending free speech.

Blockchain

The project is creating a decentralised social networking technology built on the blockchain distributed ledger system.

Blue Sky is separate from Twitter, but Twitter ultimately wants to become a “client” of Blue Sky and to use its technology, Dorsey said.

The use of a distributed ledger such as blockchain to record information points to “a future, point to a world, where content exists forever”, Dorsey said, Coindesk reported.

Blockchain puts “the keys… more and more in the hands of the individual”, Dorsey said.

Such distributed systems could help to improve security and fend off attacks such as the July 2020 hack that affected a number of high-profile Twitter accounts, Dorsey argued.

“The more we’re giving the individual the keys, the safer we’re going to be,” he said.

Twitter recently introduced additional security for high-profile political accounts ahead of the US presidential election in November.

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