Elon Musk’s Twitter page displayed on the screen of a smartphone with Twitter logos in the background in Los Angeles. InternationalIndiaAfricaCanada’s CBC recently followed in the footsteps of NPR, PBS, and other news outlets, “pausing” its activities on Twitter after being slapped with a government-funded tag, noting in an affronted tweet that, “journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue.” Tech billionaire Elon Musk publicly declared he was on a mission to make Twitter “an arena for free speech” when he acquired the social media site in a blockbuster $44-billion deal in October 2022.The world’s richest man has since culled staff, and has been adding and tweaking features to Twitter Inc., prompting everything from praise, to criticism, and profuse vitriol. The latest case in point has been the branding of multiple Western media outlets, such as the BBC, NPR, CBC, and others, with a special label indicating their ties to authorities. Previously, the label had typically been applied to Twitter accounts of state media outlets in non-Western countries that were accused of purportedly lacking editorial independence. Back in 2020, Twitter’s pre-Musk administration began tagging media pages that it deemed were under ‘government control’. Several media organizations from countries such as China, Russia and Iran received state-affiliated media tags, while their accounts were de-amplified. Though the latter action was halted, Twitter had retained the labels.Western media outlets might have been previously eager to shadowban and slander Russian or Chinese outlets, but once the tables were turned on them, the reaction of the ‘newly-tagged’ was more than a little piqued.How did the ‘Government Funded’ tag row unfold and what have the reactions been across the board? Sputnik explores.
National Public Radio
On April 4 Twitter added a “state-affiliated media” tag on the account of National Public Radio (NPR), a network of about 900 radio stations across the US, set up in 1970. Twitter identifies government-funded media 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.” NPR, closely affiliated with American authorities and notorious for trying to bury the Hunter Biden laptop saga, which shed light on the ‘shady’ details of the life of the POTUS’ family, went ballistic. The US state-sponsored media network stated on April 12 that it would no longer post fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds.NPR CEO John Lansing called the label “unacceptable.” Twitter later updated the label to “government-funded media.” In a flurry of parting shots on Twitter, NPR enumerated other sites where it could be found, including via its app, newsletters, and other social media platforms. After NPR’s outburst, Twitter CEO Elon Musk tweeted a proposition to “defund” the news organization.Tucker Carlson, weighed in on the Twitter tag tumult with NPR’s case, underscoring that the broadcaster was “the radio station of permanent Washington.”“Of course, NPR is state media… Have you listened to it? It has all the hallmarks: repetitive dishonesty, authoritarian politics, unwavering devotion to the party in charge. Of course, that could describe virtually all media in this country,” Tucker Carlson said.The journalist added that, “By adding three simple words to NPR’s tweets, Elon Musk exposed that forever to the world. Such is the power of truth. It exposes and, of course, it infuriates those who are exposed.”WorldElon Musk Calls For Defunding NPR After It Quits Twitter13 April, 13:00 GMT
Sveriges Radio, or Swedish Radio (SR) vowed to stop using Twitter with immediate effect and close down a number of accounts after being labeled on the platform as “publicly funded media,” along with fellow national broadcaster Sveriges Television (SVT).The publicly-funded Scandinavian radio station claimed that its move had nothing to do with the new tag, with social media manager Christian Gillinger suggesting that Twitter has “simply changed over the years” and was “less important” to the broadcaster. He also reports indicating that only 7% of Swedes are on Twitter daily.
"The audience has simply chosen other places to be. And therefore, Swedish Radio is now choosing to deactivate or delete the last remaining accounts," he said in a statement.
According to Sweden’s public radio, its main Twitter accounts will be frozen, and could be reactivated should the need arise.WorldSwedish Radio Leaves Twitter After Being Marked as ‘Publicly Funded Media’05:13 GMT
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC/Radio-Canada) announced on April 11 that it was suspending its activities on Twitter after the social media platform decided to label them as a government-funded outlet.
"Our journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on Twitter," CBC said in a statement via Twitter.