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Meta tells Australia inquiry it will label government-affiliated accounts

 – Social media giant Meta Platforms, owner of Facebook and Instagram, plans to label government-affiliated accounts on its new Twitter-like platform Threads, an executive told an Australian inquiry on foreign interference on Tuesday.

“Areas such as labels for state-affiliated media and fact-checking are all areas where we see a lot of value, and it’s our aspiration to build that out expeditiously,” Josh Machin, Meta’s head of public policy for Australia, told the Senate inquiry.

The disclosure comes less than a week after Meta launched Threads, which is widely seen as similar to the microblogging site Twitter.

Twitter has removed tags from government-affiliated accounts since billionaire Elon Musk took it private in 2022, bringing complaints about degrading users’ media literacy.

Asked if Russian state-affiliated broadcaster RT or Chinese government-affiliated publisher Xinhua News Agency would be tagged accordingly on Threads, Mr. Machin said, “that’s our aspiration”.

“To the effect that any state-affiliated media are violating our policies, we would remove them,” he told the inquiry. “Broader functionality around tags… are all top priorities for us as we continue to bring out the product.”

Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms already have tags on the RT and Xinhua accounts noting they are state-controlled media from Russia and China, respectively.

RT’s Threads account lacked such a label when Reuters checked on Tuesday, while Xinhua did not appear to have a Threads account.

Australian senator James Paterson, asking Meta about its labelling plans for Threads, told the inquiry Twitter’s removal of foreign government affiliation tags was “extremely concerning from a transparency view”.

Twitter declined to comment. Twitter executives are scheduled to appear at the inquiry later on Tuesday. – Reuters

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