US radio broadcaster stops Twitter because of ‘misleading label’, BBC is critical

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NPR shuts down Twitter over ‘misleading label’
NOS NewsAmended
  • Nando Kastelein

    editor Tech

The American public radio station NPR stops actively using Twitter. The news organization says it made the decision because Twitter ignored “repeated requests” to remove a label describing National Public Radio as “state-affiliated media”.

The channel received the label earlier this month, designating NPR in the same way as Chinese and Russian state media. NPR then emphasized working independently of the US government. The designation was adjusted accordingly, but the current label, “funded by the government”, is also called wrong by the news organization.

As far as we know, it is the first major news medium to decide to withdraw from Twitter. “We believe this label is designed to question our journalistic independence and undermine our credibility,” the news organization writes. “If we keep tweeting, every message would be labeled misleadingly.”

Asked for a response to NPR’s departure, Elon Musk said on Twitter that he believes funding for the public broadcaster should be stopped.

Speaking at NPR’s morning meeting today, the organization’s chief executive said that Twitter is not used by most Americans, that it generates little traffic to NPR and “no longer has the public relevance it once had.” NPR journalists are allowed to make their own assessment.

The BBC has also been classified as “government funded”. The British public broadcaster protested against this two days ago. “The BBC is and always has been independent. We are funded by the British public through licensing fees,” the organization said in a statement.

The BBC has been in contact with owner Elon Musk. He asked the organization whether the label “funded by the government” is accurate. He also suggested adding information about the source of the BBC’s revenue. He later added by email that Twitter aims for “maximum transparency and accuracy” and that “media organizations should be self-aware and not falsely claim that there is no bias.” In Musk’s eyes, the BBC is one of the least biased media.

Musk has promised to change the BBC’s label to “publicly funded”. Whether he intends to do the same for NPR and whether that would make any difference to the news organization is unclear.

The contact between Musk and the BBC also led to something else: an interview with the Twitter owner. BBC’s tech journalist for North America asked for it yesterday afternoon (US time) and got it that same evening. In that interview, Musk admitted that he bought Twitter because otherwise the judge would have forced him to do so.

When asked if he regrets his purchase, he said the “pain level has been extremely high” and “no party”. He calls running the company “not boring” and a “quite a rollercoaster”.

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