National Public Radio denounced Twitter’s decision to label the non-profit media organization a “state-affiliated media” account, calling the move “unacceptable.”
“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,” the organization’s President and CEO John Lansing said in a statement to TPM Wednesday. “NPR and our Member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide. 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.”
The “state-affiliated media” label is typically used by Twitter to identify foreign media outlets that represent the official views of their government, like Russia’s RT and China’s Xinhua — which have been listed as state-affiliated media on the social media platform for years.
“State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution,” Twitter’s Help Center reads.
“State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy,” the Help Center continues.
But that sentence was recently edited by Twitter, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. Until Tuesday morning, the Help Center identified NPR as an outlet that didn’t deserve the state-affiliated label.
“State-financed media organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the UK or NPR in the US for example, are not defined as state-affiliated media for the purposes of this policy,” the Help Center page previously said.
This is just a new level of escalation in Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s ongoing feud with the press.
Most recently Musk stripped The New York Times Twitter account, with its 55 million followers, of its verified checkmark after the newspaper refused to pay for it.
Twitter’s communications team has also been silent on media inquiries since November, refusing to respond to journalists’ questions about any of the developments that have happened in recent months — including mass layoffs and resignations at Twitter, as well as the numerous user experience changes that Musk implemented after taking over as CEO.
The press email address is active, but it now automatically replies to journalists’ inquiries with a poop emoji — something Musk seems to be taking great pleasure in.
In December, Musk also suspended the accounts of several high-profile journalists who covered him and his recently acquired company, Twitter.