Twitter unveiled a new feature on August 6 that labels government-affiliated media on the platform. Users immediately pointed out the social network’s double standards: Chinese and Russian state-backed media have been designated, but not state-backed media outlets funded by Western governments.
Twitter Support claimed it decided to start labeling government-affiliated accounts from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council: the US, UK, France, Russia, and China. Oddly, state-funded media outlets from the first three NATO countries have not been labeled.
The lies flow from there. When it announced this new policy, Twitter Support claimed, “For clarity: we don’t let state-affiliated media accounts advertise on Twitter.”
This is categorically false.
Twitter hosts a web page called the “Ads Transparency Center,” where it publicly discloses all of the paid advertisements, known as “sponsored tweets,” that the website puts into users’ feeds.
A search in the Ads Transparency Center for the official, verified Twitter account of the US government’s Voice of America, and specifically its Persian-language arm VOA Farsi, shows that the state-affiliated media outlet had paid Twitter to publish dozens of ads just in the first week of August.
That means that a US state-affiliated media outlet published more than 60 individual ads on Twitter in a mere seven days – the same week when Twitter reaffirmed its ban on ads from state-affiliated media outlets.