Twitter has launched a campaign supporting local journalists in celebration of World Press Freedom Day. It includes full-page newspaper ads to endorse the social network’s lists of journalists to follow. And it has new educational programs and funding to back open press coverage.
“As journalists continue to selflessly report from the front lines of conflicts, in the face of hostile interests, and, especially during this past year, risk their personal health to cover a global pandemic, we believe it is pivotal that they and their industry are supported,” says Twitter.
Twitter is contending with India’s requests to control tweets critical of the government’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Turkey and other governments also want more control on what social media platforms and its users publish.
Twitter has conformed to these rulings. With the platform pushing press freedom, we see an obvious conflict.
Still, Twitter’s advocacy for press freedom is always welcome.
It has sponsored a full-page ad in 28 US local newspapers to promote its #FollowLocalJournalists initiative.
The ads call people to scan a QR code linking to Twitter Lists of local journalists. Each newspaper and Twitter created the lists.
People have a more direct way to get the news updates from these journalists. Twitter provides a real-time platform for people to stay atop the latest news and announcements.
To censor or not
The Trump presidency highlighted how powerful Twitter can be. But some other world leaders want to influence tweets to maintain power and control.
Some censorship requests add up. For instance, the Indian government wants to limit COVID-19 misinformation. Yet, some governments guise their censorship request to curb criticism in handling the pandemic. It has led to the removal of tweets and account suspension of local journalists.
Twitter says it removed the tweets to obey local laws. It provided the Indian government the ability to implement censorship. In Turkey, the government forced Twitter to obey Turkish officials to control speech in tweets.
While Twitter is promoting in the US, it has limits on its capacity to support press freedom in various regions.
“We’re encouraging everyone – national reporters, journalism advocacy organizations, and everyday passionate news consumers – to share impactful examples of local journalism and elevate the reporters who contributed to it. The goal is to spotlight these reporters’ work and increase their audience,” says Twitter.
Twitter also prepared Spaces events worldwide. With it, users can hear from journalists directly on issues facing their industry. It includes events in the Philippines, Myanmar, India, Japan and Brazil.
Finally, the social network will offer training and Ads for Good grants to nonprofits in support of journalists worldwide.