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5 Apr, 2023 18:53

US broadcaster gets ‘state’ tag on Twitter

NPR has asked for the label to be removed from its account
US broadcaster gets ‘state’ tag on Twitter

The Twitter account of US government-funded broadcaster National Public Radio (NPR) has contacted Twitter after its account sprouted a “US state-affiliated media” tag on Tuesday, claiming the label must have been applied in error. 

“This must be a mistake as it contradicts Twitter’s own guidelines,” a spokesperson for the public broadcaster told Mediiate. “We have reached out to Twitter to have the label removed.” As of Wednesday afternoon, the label remains. 

In response to a congratulatory tweet from one of his followers highlighting the change to NPR’s profile, Twitter CEO Elon Musk retweeted a section of the platform’s rules reading: “State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.” 

“Seems accurate,” Musk observed.  

Twitter’s content guidelines, which previously read “state-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media,” were reportedly edited briefly to remove the NPR reference, though the mention had been restored by Wednesday afternoon. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Musk responded with “!” to being tagged by Twitter Files journalist Michael Shellenberger about an NPR article scoffing at a "right-wing" European “conspiracy theory that elites want people to eat bugs,” placed side-by-side with another NPR piece approvingly describing “Indigenous people” in the Americas eating insects before European explorers arrived.

NPR retains its gold verification badge, which marks it as “an official organization on Twitter.” Tweets from accounts bearing the “state-affiliated media” label are not recommended or amplified by Twitter in user searches. The tags were initially adopted in 2020 to further marginalize Russian and Chinese state media.  

Twitter removed the ‘verified’ checkmark from the New York Times’ profile on Saturday in line with a recently announced policy of stripping badges from ‘legacy accounts’ that were verified before Musk rolled out the paid subscription system last year. The Times has refused to pay the $1,000 monthly business verification fee or reimburse its employees for the $8 monthly personal verification fee. 

Commenting on the Times’ fall from verification, Musk remarked that “the real tragedy of @NYTimes is that their propaganda isn’t even interesting,” calling the paper’s account on his platform “the Twitter equivalent of diarrhea.” 

The billionaire has repeatedly clashed with the US media establishment, whose leading voices have accused him of promoting right-wing talking points since his purchase of Twitter and subsequent dismissal of the platform’s pro-censorship executives and staff.