Twitter pulls 'government-funded' label from media accounts

Advertisers now have to pay and verify, too.

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Twitter thinks it has a simple solution for the dust-up over the "government-funded media" label: get rid of it entirely. The social media giant has pulled both that label and the "state-affiliated" description from media accounts, including NPR, PBS and other outlets that stopped using Twitter in objection to labelling they say inaccurately portrays them as government-controlled. However, the move also applies to media sources whose content really is heavily influenced by governments, including China's Xinhua as well as Russia's RT and Sputnik.

At the same time, Twitter is setting new requirements for advertisers. The Drum has learned that marketers now need to either pay $8 per month for Twitter Blue or be verified as a noteworthy organization. Any advertiser already running at least $1,000 in ads will automatically be considered verified. The requirements reflect broader verification system changes that will make for a "superior" experience, Twitter claims.

Both changes come a day after Twitter acted on its months-long plan to remove legacy verification checkmarks. Now, only Blue subscribers receive a blue checkmark. Businesses can receive gold verifications, while government and multilateral organization accounts can have gray checks. Numerous previously verified stars and organizations have resisted paying for the blue tick, and Elon Musk has even acknowledged paying for Blue subscriptions for celebrities like LeBron James, Stephen King and William Shatner.

Blue and the new advertiser rules are meant to reduce Twitter's dependence on conventional ad revenue and move toward subscriptions. However, memberships might be enough this year. Insider Intelligence estimates that Twitter's ad revenue will fall 27.9 percent in 2023 as advertisers leave the platform, but only a small fraction of users are subscribing to Blue.

The label changes may remove some objections, but it's not certain that media outfits will come back as a result. As with the initial Blue launch, there has also been a rash of impersonators abusing the lack of verifications. Twitter is still facing some chaos, in other words, and it won't necessarily resolve them quickly.