New reporting confirms that under owner Elon Musk, Twitter has stopped enforcing key components of its state media policy, allowing Chinese and Russian accounts to operate unencumbered by restrictions articulated in official company policy.
While the company had previously blocked state media accounts from appearing in search results and affixing warning labels to links to those outlets’ sites, Semafor has found that those policies are no longer in effect. Semafor’s findings are supplemented by those of Wenhao Ma, a Voice of America reporter who discovered that the social media platform’s new “For You” page would promote state media accounts to users who don’t follow them already.
Official Twitter policy promises that “in the case of state-affiliated media entities, Twitter will not recommend or amplify accounts or their Tweets with these labels to people.”
Both Semafor and Ma’s inquiries about the quiet de facto policy reversal were auto-replied to with poop emojis.
Musk had previously been urged to considered such a reversal by Chinese state media members. In April 2022, prior to Musk’s taking the reins at Twitter twitter troll and European Union bureau chief for the Beijing-run China Daily Chen Weihua had submitted that “Elon Musk should remove my label.”
“When people want to like or RT my tweets, they are now reminded by Twitter that ‘this is state affiliated media’. This is totally discriminatory and suppression of free speech,” complained Weihua.
The Chinese Communist Party does not allow Twitter to operate within China and has punished Chinese citizens who attempt to flout the internal ban on the platform, even as it uses it to advance its foreign policy objectives.
Musk, who has significant ties to the Chinese through his other business ventures, is reportedly seeking a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. The new reporting around the relaxed restrictions on Chines and Russian-run accounts comes amidst controversy over Twitter’s labeling National Public Radio “US state-affiliated media.”
Twitter guidelines had previously stated that “State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media.”
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org