Twitter plans to label the personal accounts of heads of state

Beginning next week, Twitter will add labels to the personal accounts of heads of state as it expands its policy on government-affiliated accounts, the company said Thursday. The labels are meant to provide context for users to “have a more informed experience on Twitter,” according to a blog post from Twitter Support.

This appears to be a change from an earlier position when the company said it would not label the personal accounts of heads of state since such accounts already have “widespread name recognition, media attention, and public awareness.”

Twitter said it will also update the text in its labels to add more specificity and will apply additional labels to state-affiliated media accounts in the coming months. The company has stopped amplifying tweets from accounts where a government “exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” That doesn’t include news outlets that receive government funding but which have editorial independence.

In August, Twitter began applying labels to government officials’ accounts to more clearly identify them for users. It started with government officials in China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US, and is adding Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates beginning on February 17th.

Twitter declined to comment Thursday about whether it would apply additional protections to personal accounts of heads of state, but such protections apparently do exist. In July, the accounts of dozens of companies and high-profile individuals were compromised during a massive breach that was part of a bitcoin-promoting scam, but the (now-banned) account of then-President Trump was unaffected. It turned out that Trump’s account enjoyed additional protections after “past incidents.”

Trump was permanently banned from Twitter in January for inciting the deadly attack on the Capitol.