NPR is ditching Twitter over 'government-funded media' label on its main account

The broadcaster says the label is 'inaccurate and misleading.'


After a week-long tussle with Twitter and owner Elon Musk over labels that the company applied to its accounts, NPR said it will no longer use the platform at all. The organization criticized Twitter over a "state-affiliated media" label that was placed on its main account last week. Twitter later updated the text to read “government-funded media.”

However, NPR said the latest incarnation of the label is "inaccurate and misleading," as it's "a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence." The organization pointed out that federal funding accounts for less than one percent of its $300 million annual budget.

NPR CEO John Lansing said that, as a result of the label, the broadcaster is abandoning Twitter in order to protect its credibility. Until recently, Twitter typically reserved the "state-affiliated media" tag for government-run outlets like Russia's RT and Sputnik and China's Xinhua News Agency.

"At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter," Lansing said. "I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again." The NPR chief also said that "degradation in the culture of Twitter" also played a role in the organization's decision to pause its use of the platform.

Going forward, NPR will no longer "post fresh content" on any of its 52 official feeds. NPR is giving workers who handle its Twitter accounts a two-week grace period to rework their social media strategies. For one thing, they've directed NPR's Twitter followers toward the broadcaster's newsletters and accounts on other social media platforms. The company is leaving it up to staff to decide whether to keep using their personal Twitter accounts.

Twitter has also applied the "government-funded media" label to the BBC's Twitter account, a move that organization has also objected to. In a BBC interview on Wednesday, Musk said the company will tweak the BBC label so that it reads "publicly funded." That would be a more accurate description of how the BBC is funded. Still, Lansing claimed even if Twitter were to backtrack and remove the label from NPR's account, the organization won't start tweeting again right away.

Meanwhile, Musk has revealed how he decides which organizations should have the contentious labels. He's consulting Wikipedia's publicly-funded broadcasters category page. As it happens, several organizations listed on that page — including Canada's CBC, Japan's NHK and the UK's Channel 4 — do not have such labels on their Twitter accounts.

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