Elon Musk brands NPR ‘state-affiliated media’ in policy reversal

By | April 5, 2023

Matt Novak writes:

Twitter added a warning to NPR’s Twitter account on Tuesday, declaring it as “state-affiliated media,” a label that’s typically been reserved for foreign media outlets that represent the official views of the government, like Russia’s RT and China’s Xinhua.

In fact, several people on Twitter pointed out that the social media company specifically said that news outlets like NPR are not state-affiliated media because they have editorial independence, despite getting some funds from the government.

“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.

The explanation on Twitter’s website went on to call out NPR as an outlet that didn’t deserve the state-affiliated label. At least until recently.

“Accounts belonging to state-affiliated media entities, their editors-in-chief, and/or their prominent staff may be labeled. 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 continued.

That’s what it used to say as of Tuesday morning, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. The website still mentions the BBC but the reference to NPR was deleted sometime Tuesday.

Twitter responded to a request for comment late Tuesday with a poop emoji, an automated response set up by CEO Elon Musk. The billionaire, who bought Twitter back in October and took it private, has a combative relationship with the press. [Continue reading…]

Mike Masnick writes:

Even if you disagree with NPR’s editorial choices (and I frequently do), it’s not state-affiliated media. Labeling it as such undermines trust in Twitter and it’s labeling system. It actually serves to increase the trust in pure propaganda outfits like Sputnik that are designed to sow discord.

NPR is wholly editorially independent from the government and only receives any government funding indirectly, via the Corporation for Public Broadcasting giving grants to member stations, who then may use some of that money to pay program fees and dues to NPR itself. On the whole, federal funding makes up a tiny percentage of any funding that goes to NPR, and does not come directly from the government. And, clearly, NPR is totally editorially independent.

But of course, for whatever reason, Musk wants to put NPR in its place, and he abuses his position as owner of Twitter to arbitrarily ignore the site’s own rules so that he can do one of his stupid jokes, smugly insisting that NPR is no different than, say, Chinese state-affiliated media.

You know, like China Cyberspace, the magazine run by the chief internet censorship agency in China, which Musk penned a column for. Because Musk seems to have no problem with actual state-affiliated media that works in his personal interests, but can’t seem to stand independent media that might occasionally call out his bullshit. [Continue reading…]