But first, the action that has already been taken: Alistair Bunkall of Sky News has some examples, telling “Interesting: Twitter has now started labelling certain news organisations as state-affiliated-media. Here are examples from [Sputnik], [RT] and [CGTN]". Two from Russia and one from China. But does that limit the accounts' functionality?
As Bunkall explains, “It's not just a label, Twitter will also limit the accounts' functionality”. How so? “In the case of state-affiliated media entities, Twitter will not recommend or amplify accounts or their Tweets with these labels to people”. That means a loss of reach. But then comes the part which some UK media outlets might find worrying
And that’s the way Twitter defines the term “State-affiliated media”: “State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution. Unlike independent media, state-affiliated media frequently use their news coverage as a means to advance a political agenda” [my emphasis].
That definition is what, right now, should be ringing alarm bells throughout the right-leaning part of the UK press. Because being subjected to “direct or indirect political pressure” - through the intervention of chief Downing Street polecat Dominic Cummings and his pals - and using “their news coverage as a means to advance a political agenda” is exactly where many titles are at. Two examples from today’s front pages should suffice.
Consider today’s Daily Brexit, still called the Express, which has told readers “BORIS: ECONOMY SHOWING SIGNS OF STRENGTH … Covid-19 impact less severe than feared, says Bank of England”, alongside a photo of The Great Leader posing with a 10kg dumb-bell to show his great strength. It is the kind of display that would have made even the past editorial staff of Pravda and Isvestiya stop and think. It's pure propaganda.
Equally blatant state cheerleading has come from the Daily Mail, thundering “After up to 250 are caught making illegal Channel crossing in ONE day, Home Secretary’s dramatic intervention … PRITI: SEND IN NAVY TO TACKLE MIGRANT CRISIS … A ‘furious’ Priti Patel last night backed sending Royal Navy patrols into the English Channel after a record number of migrants reached Britain”. But she didn't actually send them.
If RT, Sputnik, CGTN or indeed any other similarly-aligned media actors came out with that blatantly partisan drivel, they’d soon have their “State-affiliated media” tag confirmed. Yet papers in the UK - including the supposedly quality titles (hello Times and Telegraph) - pump out this supposed “content” every day of the week and get away with it.
So come on Twitter, call out the UK’s state-affiliated media for what it is. Propaganda.
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What does Priti Vacant expect the Royal Navy to do? Sink the migrants'boats? Attack any French vessels escorting them?
In December 1928 an obscure journalist, a Mr. G. Orwell, wrote of a French cheap newspaper that it was bringing us "nearer the day when the newspaper will be simply a sheet of advertisement and propaganda, with a little well-censored news to sugar the pill". I don't know why Orwell has the reputation for being prescient - he missed out 'Sleb Goss and the footy.
Missed the most obvious state-controlled medium, viz. the BBC. It is, after all, the State Broadcaster, as anyone who has sampled its news & current affairs coverage since the publication of the Hutton Distraction could testify. Its Charter now even includes explicitly the rôle of propagandising on behalf of The Union (rah, rah!), which they had been doing without the need to be told in Scotland since well before the 2014 referendum.
As such, I would no more trust the BBC's news output to give me a proper picture of what's going on here than I would trust RT to tell me about internal Russian news or Al-Jazeera to give an accurate picture of matters in the Gulf.
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