Twitter Makes a 'Disturbing' Change to NPR's Account

Public broadcaster labeled 'state-affiliated' media
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2023 2:50 PM CDT
Twitter Makes a 'Disturbing' Change to NPR's Account
The headquarters for National Public Radio on North Capitol Street in Washington.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

A surprise change from Twitter suggests the social media platform sees National Public Radio as a network more akin to state-controlled Russian or Chinese media than the BBC. Twitter has labeled the public broadcaster's account as "state-affiliated media," a move NPR says happened without warning Tuesday night. Twitter's guidelines say the label applies to outlets "where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution," the New York Times reports—but the guidelines also stated that exceptions included NPR and the BBC because they are "state-financed media organizations with editorial independence."

NPR is no longer mentioned as an exception. Execs say they are "disturbed" by the move. They have contacted Twitter asking for the change to be reversed. "NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way," CEO John Lansing said in a statement. Twitter CEO Elon Musk appeared to approve of the move in a tweet early Wednesday in response to conservative columnist Benny Johnson. "Sounds about right," Musk said of the updated guidelines on state-affiliated media.

NPR says it operates independently of the federal government and "gets less than 1% of its annual budget, on average, from federal sources." The Washington Post reports that "aside from the unsavory suggestion that its reporting is tainted," outlets labeled state-affiliated media could have their reach reduced because Twitter policy states that it will not recommend or amplify such accounts. Requests for comment on the matter from Twitter's press office received the poop emoji auto-reply. (More Twitter stories.)

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