Twitter removes ‘government-funded’ news labels after NPR and other flubs
After weeks of truly stupid antics, Twitter has removed “government-funded media” labels on all accounts, from NPR to the Chinese state-affiliated Xinhua News. Twitter even appears to have deleted its web page explaining the “government-funded media” labels.
This whole saga started when Twitter labeled NPR as “state-affiliated,” a designation that Twitter reserves for publications where the government exercises influence or control over editorial decisions. But NPR receives about 1% of its funding from the government and operates with editorial independence. So, Twitter created a new “government-funded media” label for NPR, which is a bit less misleading, yet still could easily give users the wrong idea about the accuracy of its news. NPR ended up leaving Twitter, with its CEO saying he has lost his faith in the decision-making at Twitter.
Twitter doubled down, adding “government-funded” labels to media outlets like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC Australia), Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), New Zealand’s public broadcaster RNZ, Sweden’s SR Ekot and SVT and Catalonia’s TV3.cat.
In one particularly asinine act, Twitter assigned the CBC a “69% government-funded media” label, since the network claimed it was less than 70% government-funded, and as we very well-know, Twitter owner Elon Musk has the same sense of humor as a high school freshman on Reddit. This prompted the CBC to follow NPR’s lead and leave Twitter altogether.
And now we’ve come full-circle. Just like legacy blue checks, the government-funded media labels have disappeared. So it goes.
I’m a journalist who specializes in investigative reporting and writing. I have written for the New York Times and other publications.