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After NPR left the platform, Twitter removed all ‘government-funded media’ labels


Twitter has removed labels describing certain media outlets as “government funded” or “state affiliated,” after falsely implying they were government propaganda machines.Fierce backlash from editorially independent media outlets like NPR and the BBC ensued after Elon Musk’s Twitter inaccurately classified them as controlled by their governments. But after the organizations were forced to prove their independence and combat the threat of public mistrust, it all seems to be a moot point since the labels no longer exist.

Bye, bye blue checks: Twitter wipes legacy verified badges from the platform

Earlier this April, Twitter added a label to NPR’s Twitter page describing it as “US state-affiliated media,” which Twitter defined as “outlets where the state controls editorial content through funding or political pressure,” per(opens in a new tab) Gizmodo. The label put NPR in the same category as China’s Xinhua News and Russia’s RT and Sputnik which are widely considered to be government-controlled propaganda machines.

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Following an email exchange with NPR reporter Bobby Allyn who told Twitter CEO Elon Musk that NPR only receives one percent of government funding, Musk changed the label to “Government Funded Media.” The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Voice of America also had the new “Government Funded” label, despite also being editorially independent.

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The slightly different semantic classification was still unacceptable for NPR, and it left the platform. Efforts to “tarnish the independence of any public media institution are exceptionally harmful and set a dangerous precedent,” said(opens in a new tab) NPR CEO John Lansing.
But now, after all that, Musk has decided to drop media labels altogether. “This was Walter Isaacson’s suggestion,” Musk told NPR’s Allyn in an exchange. Isaacson, an author and journalist who wrote Steve Jobs’ biography is working on a biography of Musk.

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And that’s probably as much of an explanation as we’ll ever get.


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