WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES — Twitter has backtracked after an uproar for labelling the US radio network NPR as “state-affiliated media” and now calls it “government-funded.”
Elon Musk’s social media network has also applied that new label to the BBC, which is funded predominantly by British households paying a license fee.
Britain’s beloved national broadcaster has reached out to Twitter for clarification, news reports said.
The change in how Twitter refers to Washington-based National Public Radio happened quietly overnight Saturday and comes after the network complained that the term “state-affiliated” was disparaging and inaccurate.
Twitter last week branded NPR in the same way as government-owned Chinese and Russian platforms.
In protest, NPR stopped tweeting. In its updated Twitter bio, NPR’s main account — which has more than 8.8 million followers — invited users to “find us every other place where you read the news.”
NPR CEO John Lansing said the decision by Twitter was “unacceptable” and the radio’s account has remained silent ever since.
Other accounts run by NPR, such as its music and politics handles, did not have the “state-affiliated” specification and have continued to post tweets.
Musk’s move against NPR came just days after Twitter stripped The New York Times of its verified status on the platform, which like NPR, is often accused of left-leaning bias, particularly by US conservatives.
According to Twitter policy, the decisions will deamplify tweets from both companies, limiting their reach on a platform that remains a major communication tool for media outlets, celebrities and officials.
Musk has for years expressed a deep disdain for the news media and in recent weeks installed an automatic response of a poop emoji to emails sent to the site’s main press address.
But on Thursday, NPR said Musk had signalled in a series of emails that the relabeling may not have been “accurate” and that Twitter would look further into the matter.
“The operating principle at Twitter is simply fair and equal treatment, so if we label non-US accounts as government, then we should do the same for the US, but it sounds like that might not be accurate here,” Musk wrote to NPR.
According to NPR’s website, the bulk of its budget comes from fees paid by member stations throughout the United States, which are themselves supported by individual donors and government funds.
NPR, one of America’s most respected news outlets, told AFP less than one per cent of its operational budget comes from federal sources.