June 25, 2024


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NPR quits Elon Musk’s Twitter over ‘government-funded’ label

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FILE - A Twitter logo hangs outside the company's offices in San Francisco, on Dec. 19, 2022. Twitter has labeled National Public Radio (NPR) as “state-affiliated media” on the social media site Wednesday, April 5, 2023, a move some worried could undermine public confidence in the news organization. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

National Public Radio is quitting Twitter after the social media platform owned by Elon Musk stamped NPR’s main account with labels the news organization says undermine its credibility.

Twitter labeled NPR’s main account last week as “state-affiliated media,” a label also used to identify media outlets that are controlled or heavily influenced by authoritarian governments, such as Russia and China. Twitter later changed the label to “government-funded media” and gave it to a few other organizations, such as the Public Broadcasting Service in the U.S. and the British Broadcasting Corporation in the U.K.

NPR said in a statement on Wednesday that it “will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent.”

PBS said Wednesday it has also stopped tweeting from its main account because of its new label and has no plans to resume.

NPR’s main account had not tweeted since April 4. On Wednesday, it sent a series of tweets listing other places to find its journalism.

The company’s spokesperson, Isabel Lara, said NPR journalists, employees and member stations can decide on their own if they want to keep using the platform. NPR journalists have not been given the “government-funded” label, at least not yet.

NPR does receive U.S. government funding through grants from federal agencies and departments, along with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The company said it accounts for less than 1% of NPR’s annual operating budget.

Twitter’s new labels have often appeared arbitrarily assigned. It tagged NPR with the “state-affiliated” label after Musk participated in a public conversation about NPR on Twitter, and then deleted mention of NPR, but left up BBC, on a web page where it described why they should not get that label.

Twitter hasn’t added the “government-funded” label for many other public broadcasting organizations, such as those in Canada and Australia. It has also changed some labels without explanation, such as when it removed a “United Arab Emirates state-affiliated media” tag from the profile of Abu Dhabi’s The National newspaper earlier this year.

In an interview Tuesday with a BBC technology reporter at Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters, Musk acknowledged that the British organization “is not thrilled” about the label it received and asked the reporter for feedback.

“Our goal was simply to be as truthful and accurate as possible,” Musk said. “So I think we’re adjusting the label to be ‘publicly funded,’ which I think is perhaps not too objectionable. We’re trying to be accurate.”

The BBC did not respond to a request for comment on whether it plans to continue using Twitter.

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