NPR has announced that it will no longer be posting content on Twitter after the social media platform labeled NPR’s main account as “state-affiliated media,” a label meant to identify likely propaganda.
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.”
Originally intended to identify media outlets either controlled or heavily influenced by government dictate, as in China or Russia, the label has become diluted since Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter. The label’s details were changed to ‘government-funded media.’ but without publicity, meaning that the public still expects it to mean that a source is untrustworthy.
“It’s a shame to have proceeded in a direction where, intentionally or otherwise, Twitter is categorizing Russian propaganda outlets in a similar way to very legitimate news sources that get a very modest amount of funding from the U.S. government,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.
While Twitter is just one company, the social media platform has a powerful, global reach.
NPR does receive government funding, but it accounts for less than 1% of the network’s annual operating budget, and there is no government oversight of content or editorial decisions. Twitter used to specifically cite NPR as an example of a news organization which was not eligible for the “state-affiliated” label for that very reason. It has since removed that language from their site, along with language mentioning the BBC, which was also given the label, as was PBS.
“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.”
Twitter declined to comment on what percentage of funding would qualify an organization as ‘publicly funded’ or ‘government-funded.’
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