Twitter limits reach for Russian government accounts and bans most PoW imagery – TechCrunch

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Twitter will impose new restrictions on government accounts of countries at war, if those governments are also restricting the free flow of information within their own borders.

in one blog update, Twitter explained that the new policy aims to redress the “serious information imbalance” that occurs when an authoritarian government blocks access to online platforms while the same platforms continue to be used for propaganda. “Particularly in moments of active, armed interstate conflict, the damage caused by this imbalance is acute; Access to information and the ability to share information is paramount,” wrote Sinéad McSweeney, Twitter VP of Global Public Policy.

Starting with Russia, accounts falling under the new rules will be barred from expanding in Twitter’s Explore, Search, and Home features. To meet Twitter’s threshold for the new account restrictions, a country’s censorship of online information must either affect the majority of its population or severely restrict a smaller group of people within its borders. To determine which conflicts fall under the ruleset, Twitter uses a definition of interstate armed conflict from the International Committee of the Red Cross. The new rules also apply in situations where Twitter is not banned in the country concerned.

Hundreds of accounts associated with the Russian government have actively promoted a very misleading portrayal of the invasion since its inception. In particular, a cadre of Russian embassy accounts served as “primary test vehicle‘ for some strains of Russian disinformation, according to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab. Twitter dampened the range from state-affiliated Russian media accounts in late February, but the new policy will largely hide accounts associated with the Russian government from the site’s recommendation and discovery features.

Twitter also announced a new policy requiring governments and government-affiliated accounts to remove all images depicting prisoners of war, a change that has now been added to Twitter Rules against doxing. Twitter will still allow accounts to share some POW images if they serve a “compelling public interest,” including journalism, but it now specifically bans all PoW media shared with abusive intent.

While Twitter’s policy changes mostly have Russia in mind given its bloody aggression against neighboring Ukraine, the Ukrainian government could also run afoul of the new rules. In early March, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine began the exchange graphical representations of the enemy, including images of Russian prisoners being interrogated. While Ukraine is likely trying to counter Russia’s misinformation campaign and stoking anti-government sentiment in the country, the strategy may well violate the Geneva Convention’s laws governing the treatment of prisoners of war.

Unfortunately, Twitter’s new rules come at the right time. In the last few days the full of horrors of the Russian invasion of Ukraine have come into focus. As Russian troops withdraw from some besieged cities, the aftermath paints a grisly picture of massacres, torture and mass kidnappings of civilians – and these revelations have only just begun.

Twitter limits reach for Russian government accounts and bans most PoW imagery – TechCrunch Source link Twitter limits reach for Russian government accounts and bans most PoW imagery – TechCrunch

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