On Tuesday, Twitter labeled National Public Radio's main account with a “state-affiliated media” tag. NPR has deemed the tag “unacceptable” and an unfair and inaccurate assessment of the media channel as well as algorithmic implications that accompany such a label.
“We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media'," said NPR President and CEO John Lansing in a statement, adding that the tag is “a description that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NPR.”
Lansing added that NPR and its member stations, which stand “for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable,” are “supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for independent, fact-based journalism.”
According to the Twitter guidelines, state-affiliated accounts are outlets in which the state “exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution,” such as Russia's RT and China’s Xinhua, which are labeled on the app as such.
It has been well-documented that NPR does not rely on the U.S. government for funding and receives on average no more than 1% of its annual budget from federal sources. NPR says it is an independent, non-profit media organization, and receives the majority of its funds from sponsorships and fees paid by hundreds of member stations.
A spokesperson from NPR, Isabel Lara, said that the publisher was not warned in advance of the label and thought it could have been a mistake.
Later, Musk cited the app's definition of state-affiliated media and tweeted simply: “Seems accurate.”
In recent weeks, Musk has been removing news outlets’ blue check marks after they declined to pay for the app’s new subscription verification service.
According to Deadline, when Twitter labels an account “state-affiliated media,” it does not amplify them or recommend them to people, “potentially impacting its online traffic.”