- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 12, 2019

Twitter announced measures Thursday to help users of the social networking service clearly identify the accounts of U.S. political candidates running for office in 2020.

In a blog post, Twitter senior public policy manager Bridget Coyne said the service will designate accounts belonging to major candidates in upcoming U.S. House, Senate and gubernatorial contests by branding them with the blue “verified” badge used by the company since 2009 and a special “Election Label” it introduced last year.

Candidates who qualify for the primary ballot will have their Twitter pages and posts tagged with the blue verified checkmark, while the newer label will be reserved for those who make it on to the general election ballot next November, Ms. Coyne wrote.

Ballotpedia, a nonprofit organization that aggregates political and election data, is teaming up with Twitter for both initiatives, each acknowledged in separate announcements.

Twitter began using the blue verified checkmark a decade ago to authenticate accounts. The company rolled out the newer Election Label in 2018.

“Election Labels provide information about political candidates, like the office they are running for, their state and district number, and contain a small ballot box icon. The Label will appear on the profile page of a candidate’s Twitter account and on every Tweet sent and Retweeted by the candidate’s account, even when embedded on sites off of Twitter,” explained Ms. Coyne.

Twitter users saw tweets from accounts bearing the Election Label roughly 100 million times leading up to the 2018 U.S. midterm elections, and 13% of related conversations on the service included a Tweet with an Election Label, Ms. Coyne added.

American intelligence agencies have assessed that Russian social media users interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in part by spreading disinformation on services including Twitter. More recently, several top Trump administration officials warned that other adversaries are inclined to follow suit in 2020.

“Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions,” the heads of the Departments of Justice, Defense and Homeland Security, among others, said last month.

“Adversaries may try to accomplish their goals through a variety of means, including social media campaigns, directing disinformation operations, or conducting disruptive or destructive cyberattacks on state and local infrastructure.”

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