Twitter Drops ‘Government-Funded’ Label From NPR, PBS After News Orgs Quit Platform in Protest

The news organizations had stopped posting on Elon Musk’s platform amid dispute over “state-affiliated” and “government-funded” labels

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Twitter quietly stopped labeling media outlets as “government-funded” and “state-affiliated” following a dispute that saw NPR, PBS, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. and others pause or stop using the social media platform in protest.

NPR said the move came late Thursday night, when its Twitter account saw the “government-funded” label disappear.

Twitter also dropped the “state-affiliated” identifiers it had used to designate outlets like Russia’s RT and Sputnik and China’s Xinhua.

The policy page describing the labels also disappeared from Twitter’s website, NPR noted.

The change in the labeling system came the same day Twitter finally removed blue “verification” checkmarks from journalists’, celebrities’ and influencers’ accounts if they did not pay a monthly fee. Twitter CEO Elon Musk had initially said the “legacy” blue checks would disappear on April 1.

Late Thursday, Musk tweeted, “Such a great day in so many ways,” with no elaboration.

NPR reporter Bobby Allyn tweeted that Musk told him the platform “has now dropped all media labels. Asked why, Musk says: “This was Walter Isaacson’s suggestion.”

Isaacson, a prolific author perhaps best known for his 2011 book on Steve Jobs, is penning an upcoming Musk biography.

NPR did not immediately respond to a query about whether it will resume using the platform.

NPR’s main Twitter feed on Friday morning still had a pinned tweet directing users to find and read its work through its newsletters, app or other social media.

The network has not tweeted since April 12, when it said it was quitting Twitter after Musk slapped it with a “state-affiliated” media label, before switching to “government-funded media.” In all, it suspended activity on 52 separate feeds, making it the first major news organization to leave the embattled platform since Musk bought it in October.

NPR, which was joined by multiple local public radio stations and similarly labeled PBS in its Twitter exit, said the labels were “inaccurate and misleading” because they mischaracterized their funding streams and suggested that their reporting was not independent.

“It would be a disservice to the serious work you all do here to continue to share it on a platform that is associating the federal charter for public media with an abandoning of editorial independence or standards,” NPR CEO John Lansing wrote in an email to staff explaining the decision to leave.

International news outlets like the CBC and the U.K.’s BBC disputed similar labels.

The editor-in-chief of Russia’s RT also noted the change. “Twitter de-labeled me and all of our channels as ‘public funded media’. Now you can even find me in the search,” Margarita Simonyan posted Friday. “Brotherly, Elon @elonmusk, from the heart.”