Twitter dropped label that prompted NPR to abandon its account

Twitter owner Elon Musk has evidently bent the knee and removed the “government-funded media” tag from the accounts of NPR, the CBC, the BBC and other otherwise state-funded media entities, including Xinhua News.

What remains unclear is why …

For weeks a battle had been brewing over the tags, with outlets like NPR threatening to take themselves off of Twitter unless the correct labeling was removed.

Indeed, right after the labeling was applied to NPR around the start of the month, NPR CEO John Lansing released a statement crying foul.

“We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media,’ a description that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NPR. NPR and our member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide,” he said.

“NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy,” he added.

If you take a look at NPR’s account, you’ll see it last posted a tweet nearly 10 days ago, and that in the tweet it’d directed all of its Twitter followers to other platforms where it’s still regularly active:

Despite the threats and apparent follow-through by NPR and others, Musk continued to rightly maintain that they were state-funded media.

About a week ago, for example, he posted a tweet rightly noting how NPR’s website lists federal funding as “essential” for the outlet’s operations.


So why the last-minute change of heart from Musk? He hasn’t said yet.

In separate but related news, this week Musk also nixed Twitter’s legacy blue check mark system that had automatically granted the coveted marks to anyone who was a celebrity or important figure of some type.

“Many of Twitter’s high-profile users on Thursday lost the blue checks that helped verify their identity and distinguish them from impostors,” the Associated Press reported.

“Twitter had about 300,000 verified users under the original blue-check system — many of them journalists, athletes and public figures. The checks used to mean the account was verified by Twitter to be who it says it is. High-profile users who lost their blue checks Thursday included Beyoncé, Pope Francis, Oprah Winfrey and former President Donald Trump.”

This too prompted some anger … and subsequent mockery:

There were a few catches, though.

“Celebrity users, from basketball star LeBron James to author Stephen King and Star Trek’s William Shatner, have balked at joining — although on Thursday, all three had blue checks indicating that the account paid for verification,” according to the AP.

King, for his part, was adamant that he hasn’t paid for Twitter Blue.

“My Twitter account says I’ve subscribed to Twitter Blue. I haven’t. My Twitter account says I’ve given a phone number. I haven’t. Just so you know,” the horror writer tweeted Thursday.

Musk responded to this particular tweet by writing, “You’re welcome namaste.” He later added in another tweet that he was personally paying for King, Shatner, and James’ blue check marks for some unknown reason.


The announcement wasn’t well-received, with critics complaining about the lack of equality permeating his decision.


Vivek Saxena


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