May 26, 2022

In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Twitter will impose new restrictions on government accounts belonging to warring countries, while those governments will also restrict the free flow of information within their borders.

IN blog updateTwitter explained that the new policy is intended to address a “serious information imbalance” that occurs when an authoritarian government blocks access to online platforms and still uses the same platforms for propaganda. “Especially in times of active armed conflict between states, the damage caused by this imbalance is acute; Access to information and the ability to share information is paramount,” wrote Sinead McSweeney, vice president of global public policy at Twitter.

Starting in Russia, accounts that are subject to the new rules will be prohibited from promoting Twitter’s search, search, and launch features. For the new account restrictions to be consistent with Twitter’s restrictions, a country’s online censorship must affect a large portion of the population, or a small group of people within it. To determine which conflicts fall under the rules, Twitter uses the International Committee of the Red Cross definition of interstate armed conflict. The new rules will also apply where Twitter is not banned in the country.

Hundreds of accounts linked to the Russian government actively promoted highly misleading descriptions of the invasion from the start. Notably, according to the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, several Russian embassy accounts have served as “primary testing facilities” for some types of Russian disinformation. Twitter blocked access to Russian state media accounts in late February, but the new policy will largely hide accounts associated with the Russian government from the site’s recommendations and search features.

Twitter also announced a new policy requiring governments and state-linked accounts to remove all POW images, a change that has now been added to Twitter. rules against dockingTwitter still allows accounts to share certain PoW images as long as they serve a “general public interest”, including journalism, but now explicitly bans all PoW media shared with offensive intent.

While the change in Twitter policy is primarily directed against Russia in the wake of the bloody aggression in neighboring Ukraine, the Ukrainian government could also break the new rules. In early March, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry began publishing hostile graphics, including photographs of interrogations of Russian prisoners. While Ukraine tried to counter the Russian propaganda campaign and encourage anti-government sentiment in the country, this strategy may have violated the laws of the Geneva Convention governing the treatment of prisoners of war.

Unfortunately, Twitter’s new rules came just in time. In recent days, all the horrors of the Russian invasion of Ukraine have come to the fore. The withdrawal of Russian troops from some besieged cities paints a gruesome picture of massacres of civilians, torture and mass kidnappings – and these revelations are just beginning.

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