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Twitter labels major media outlets ‘government-funded’, enraging government-funded media outlets

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
April 10, 2023

It all started last week when Twitter decided to label National Public Radio (NPR) as "state-affiliated media" on the Twitter platform.

NPR expressed deep concern that the label would undermine public confidence in its journalism.

NPR's CEO, John Lansing referred to the situation as, "unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way," according to ABC News.

Twitter's definition of "state-affiliated media"

According to Twitter's company guidelines, the company owner, Elon Musk, indicates that state-affiliated media includes, "outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and / or control over production and distribution."

"Seems accurate," Musk tweeted in response to NPR.

NPR pushed back, indicating that it only gets less than one percent of its funding from the government, and that the rest comes from listener donations and underwriters.

That particular label puts NPR in the same news category as Russia's RT and China's Xinhua propaganda outlets, according to Forbes.

Musk creates new "government-funded media" label

The label was quietly changed to "government-funded media" over the weekend, and the "state- affiliated" label is still being applied to RT and Xinhau.

Musk told NPR's technology reporter, Bobby Allyn, that the "government-funded" label would be applied to, "a larger number of institutions," according to Forbes.

That being said, an explanation of exactly what "government-funded media" means is not being provided by Twitter.

NPR is refusing to post anything on its main Twitter account until the label is removed. It is directing its 8.8 million followers to follow it on other social media platforms instead.

Since that change, Twitter is also applying the "government-funded media" label to several other mainstream media outlets, such as the BBC, PBS and Voice of America, according to The Hill.

The BBC took offense to this label and is not willing to accept being categorized in that way.

Musk explains why some media is labeled on Twitter

"We are speaking to Twitter to resolve this issue as soon as possible. The BBC is, and always has been independent," BBC told The Hill.

NPR and Musk have been in e-mail communications about the new label, and the reasoning for implementing it.

"The operating principle at Twitter is simply fair and equal treatment, so if we label non-US accounts as government, then we should do the same for the US, but it sounds like that might not be accurate here," Musk told to NPR, according to The Business Standard.

It's suspected that the "government-funded" label will somehow limit the reach of those bearing it who have active accounts on the Twitter platform, according to Newsmax.