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Twitter Removes News Outlet Labels

Twitter Removes News Outlet Labels

Sarah Hardacre
After categorizing NPR, PBS, BBC, CBC and others as “state-affiliated media” – leading multiple agencies to halt their activity – Twitter decided to remove labels from all news agencies last week.

At the beginning of April, NPR and other western news organizations were caught off guard when Twitter added the label “state-affiliated media” to its accounts. The label had been previously used for news agencies linked to propaganda outlets from autocratic countries. Twitter also applied the label to PBS, CBC, and the BBC.

NPR rapidly reached out to Twitter and the label was then updated to “government-funded media.” NPR’s concerns were not calmed and the label was deemed “inaccurate and misleading, given that NPR is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence.” NPR then decided to completely halt its activities on Twitter.

NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn sent an email to Twitter owner Elon Musk to gauge his reaction to NPR’s stance. Musk didn’t respond immediately, but then tweeted the email with the comment “Defund @NPR”.

In an interview with the BBC, Musk advised that “[Twitter’s] goal is simply to be as truthful and accurate as possible. We’re adjusting the label to be ‘publicly funded,’ which I think is perhaps not too objectionable.”

This week, however, Twitter removed the labels from all media organizations, including the “China state-affiliated media” label applied to some accounts since 2020. Twitter has also taken down the policy page referring to government and media account labels. The move has not changed NPR’s position, and the news outlet remains silent on Twitter.

Some are concerned that removal of all labels will lead to more extreme and dangerous content on Twitter, as well as the rise of misinformation. Musk’s response was, “All news is to some degree propaganda, let people decide for themselves.”

In addition to removing the labels, Twitter has also removed the blue check marks from previously verified accounts, including accounts of public figures such as journalists and politicians. Only those opting to subscribe to Twitter’s Blue service will now have access to the verified check marks.

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