Twitter removed labels describing major news organizations as “government-funded” or “state-affiliated” after NPR and public broadcasters in several countries criticized the labels as misleading and suspended use of their Twitter accounts.
The removal of the hashtags was the latest change Twitter has made abruptly and without explanation under the leadership of its owner, Elon Musk.
Twitter made the change a day after it began removing checkmark icons from the profiles of thousands of celebrities, politicians and journalists whose identities it had verified before Musk bought the company for $44 billion in October. Twitter, which automatically responds to email inquiries from the press with a poop emoji, did not immediately comment Friday.
npr reported that Musk said in an email that Twitter had removed all media labels and that “that was a suggestion from Walter Isaacson,” apparently referring to the author and former media executive who is working on a book about Musk. Isaacson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
NPR said last week that it would suspend all use of Twitter after the social network designated the broadcaster as “US state-affiliated media.”
Twitter later changed the label on NPR’s Twitter account to “Government Funded Media.” He gave the same designation to PBS, which also said it would stop tweeting from his account.
NPR said last week that it received less than 1 percent of its annual operating budget in the form of grants from the government-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other federal agencies and departments. He said his two biggest sources of income are corporate endorsements and fees paid by member stations, which rely heavily on donations from listeners.
PBS says in your website that, because it has no commercials, many people mistakenly believe that the government provides most of its funding. But federal funds make up only about 15 percent of his revenue, the broadcaster said.
Twitter also applied the label “Government Funded Media” to the account of the BBC, Britain’s national broadcaster, until it was changed to “Publicly Funded Media”. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation object to Mr. Musk’s decision to label it as “69% Government-funded mediaand said it was pausing the use of your Twitter account.
In a declaration Issued Thursday, the Global Task Force, a group representing national public broadcasters in eight countries, including Canada, Britain and France, took issue with the Twitter label of four of its members as “Government-Funded Media.” .
The group said the “misleading tag” had been applied “without warning or consultation” to the Twitter accounts of Australian Broadcasting Corporation, CBC/Radio-Canada, Korean Broadcasting System and Radio New Zealand. The editorial independence of the four broadcasters is protected by law and enshrined in their editorial policies, according to the statement.
“Labeling them this way misleads audiences about their operational and editorial independence from the government,” the group said.
That argument was similar to that of Isabel Lara, NPR’s director of communications, who said last week that “NPR’s organizational accounts will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking steps that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that it is not we are editorially independent.”
By Friday, Twitter had removed the “government-funded” labels from the accounts of NPR, the BBC, PBS, the CBC and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The “state-affiliated media” label was also removed from the Twitter accounts of the Chinese state news agency Xinhua and Russian state media outlet RT. The page on Twitter’s website detailing its policy on media tagging has been removed.
NPR did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday, but John Lansing, NPR’s chief executive, said the station would not immediately return to Twitter, even if the “Government-Funded Media” label were removed.
“I would need some time to understand if Twitter can be trusted again,” he said in an interview on NPR last week.
PBS declined to comment Friday. CBC said in an email: “We are reviewing this latest development and will be placing our Twitter accounts on pause before taking any next steps.”