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Twitter Erases State-Affiliated, Government-Funded Labels From NPR And Other Accounts

A phone with the Twitter logo sits on a keyboard with a screen that also has the logo.
This illustration photo taken in Los Angeles on April 20, 2023, shows Elon Musk's account on a smartphone. Under Musk as CEO, Twitter has changed how it labels accounts.
(Christopher Furlong
/
Getty Images)
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Twitter has stopped labeling media organizations as "state-affiliated" and "government-funded," including NPR, which recently quit the platform over how it was denoted.

LAist's position
  • LAist, in support of NPR's decision to stop posting to Twitter, also paused activity on our organization's Twitter accounts. We agree with NPR CEO John Lansing, who said going silent on Twitter allows the network to “protect its credibility and its ability to produce journalism without 'a shadow of negativity.'”

In a move late Thursday night, the social media platform nixed all labels for a number of media accounts it had tagged, dropping NPR's "government-funded" tag along with the "state-affiliated" identifier for outlets such as Russia's RT and Sputnik, as well as China's Xinhua.

The policy page describing the labels also disappeared from Twitter's website. The labeling change came after Twitter removed blue checkmarks denoting an account was verified from scores of feeds earlier on Thursday.

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At the beginning of April, Twitter added "state-affiliated media" to NPR's official account. That label was misleading: NPR receives less than 1% of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting and does not publish news at the government's direction.

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It also tacked the tag onto other outlets that receive a small portion of their funding from the government such as BBC, PBS, and CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster.

Twitter then changed the label to "Government-funded."

Last week, NPR exited the platform, becoming the largest media organization to quit the Musk-owned site, which he was forced to buy last October.

"It would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here to continue to share it on a platform that is associating the federal charter for public media with an abandoning of editorial independence or standards," NPR CEO John Lansing wrote in an email to staff explaining the decision to leave.

Disclosure: This story was reported and written by NPR reporter Mary Yang and edited by Business Editor Lisa Lambert. Under NPR's protocol for reporting on itself, no corporate official or news executive reviewed this story before it was posted publicly.

  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit npr.org.

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