Twitter introduces new policies targeting Russian state-run accounts

As Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its 40th day, social media platforms are still scrambling to update their policies to reflect the current situation.

Tuesday, Twitter announcement that the platform “would no longer amplify or endorse government accounts owned by states that restrict access to free information and are engaged in interstate armed conflict.” The company says this will apply to all state-run accounts, whether or not that particular government has blocked Twitter in their country.

The first government accounts to be affected by this new policy change, unsurprisingly, are those operated by Russia, according to Twitter. These Russian state-run accounts will no longer be promoted by Twitter’s algorithm in users’ newsfeeds, explore tabs, or search.

Twitter’s new rules are pretty vague. Russia clearly ticks the boxes outlined by the new policy. But what about Saudi Arabia? United States? Based on Twitter’s own language in this policy, those countries can certainly check those boxes as well. However, at present, Russia is the only country that Twitter says the rule currently affects.

In addition to this new rule, Twitter has added a policy regarding media depicting POWs. The platform will now ask government or state-run accounts “to remove any published media that features POWs.” If this outlet remains due to “compelling public interest”, Twitter will add a warning label to the tweet.

However, if PoW-related content is shared with “abusive intent,” which Twitter describes as slurs or calls for violence, the company will remove the tweet altogether, regardless of the type of account that posted it. publish.

This new rule is much more precise than the previous one. Twitter even cites international humanitarian law, “in particular Article 13 of the Geneva Convention III”, which protects prisoners of war from “any physical or psychological abuse or threat, and encompasses the prohibition of humiliating them”, when explains the thought process behind this new policy.

It’s clear that Russia’s war in Ukraine has led companies like Twitter to rethink some of their content moderation policies, as previous policies failed to stifle misinformation and propaganda. Twitter clearly has no qualms about applying these rules to Russia (and rightly so), but we’ll have to wait and see if the company applies these policies similarly to others.

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