On Monday Twitter announced that they had banned 936 twitter accounts that were found guilty spreading propaganda about on-going protests in Hong Kong. These accounts were allegedly state-backed and “were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” the company stated in a blog post.
Since Twitter is blocked in People’s Republic of China (PRC), most of the accounts were relying on VPNs while others originated from unblocked IPs in mainland China. Moving forward, the company has announced plans to update its policies to ban advertising from all state-sponsored news sources globally.
Twitter says, “we are updating our advertising policies with respect to state media. Going forward, we will not accept advertising from state-controlled news media entities. Any affected accounts will be free to continue to use Twitter to engage in public conversation, just not our advertising products.”
According to the company, the new policies are aimed at upholding “healthy discourse and open conversation.” The new policy will affect news media outlets that are “either financially or editorially controlled by the state.”
The company has compiled a list of state-run media outlets based on information provided by “Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, Freedom House, the Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index, the European Journalism Centre’s Media Landscapes Report, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and UNESCO’s framework to assess media development and independence.”
There is an exclusion to this policy though. It will not apply to media entities entirely dedicated to entertainment, sports, and travel content. However, if the content is mixed with news, it will be prohibited.