Twitter lifts restrictions on state media accounts in China and Russia

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Elon Musk has kept up his fight for more free and open discourse on Twitter. This time, he has lifted the limitations that previous Twitter administration had put in place at the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

Following Russia’s initial acts of aggression in the area, Twitter announced in February of last year that it would add labels to Tweets that include links to state-affiliated media websites. It also took other steps to lessen the reach of this content. It included removing it from recommendations and downranking it in algorithm-defined timelines.

As a result of Musk’s statement that individuals should be free to evaluate all the facts for themselves, Twitter has now removed all these limitations.

I’m told Putin called me a war criminal for helping Ukraine, so he’s not exactly my best friend.

All news is to some degree propaganda. Let people decide for themselves.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 9, 2023

The change is in line with Musk’s broader campaign for free expression, which has also seen the lifting of such limitations on accounts belonging to Chinese official media.

Researchers have discovered that the limitations on Russian and Chinese messages that had previously been in place have vanished. This discovery coincides with Musk’s other company, Tesla, announcing plans to build a new component factory in Shanghai.

We set off on a new journey towards Master Plan 3.
Meet Megafactory in Shanghai, China⚡️@elonmusk @ShLetsMeet @Tesla @Tesla_Megapack pic.twitter.com/X7T8iaGzM1

— Tesla Asia (@Tesla_Asia) April 9, 2023

In the past, it was discovered that CCP-affiliated organizations were using tweets to carry out extensive influence campaigns. The Indian Government has repeatedly urged Twitter to take down tweets that it considers to be critical of the government.

Twitter has responded on both fronts. But it now appears that Musk will rely more on Community Notes to arbitrate them, rather than control those pushes through management decrees.

Musk’s strategy for moderation and reducing the effect of such operations is to push for maximum take-up of Twitter Blue. In his opinion, it will destroy bot armies. These programs won’t be able to afford to spend $8 per account to carry out their campaigns.

The only surviving profiles on the app will probably be bots. Every real person will have a blue tick next to their name. But, there must be a significant uptake in Twitter’s membership program. So far, it has failed to connect with most users.

Elon believes that the government and the media are both lying. His claims are the only ones that are true for him. He believes this despite being constantly shown to be wrong and having to retract them.

Of course, Community Notes might occasionally fact-check him as well. Yet, he believes that the only reliable source is Twitter, which will now make more government propaganda possible.

How it works out is another matter. It probably won’t do anything to stop Twitter advertisers from cutting back on their investment on the platform.


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Author: Francis Rey

Francis is a voracious reader and prolific writer. He has been writing about social media and technology for more than 10 years. During off hours, he relishes moments with his wife and daughter.

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