Twitter has been in the news for a number of questionable decisions lately, such as: the ‘poop emoji’ automatic reply to any inquiries made to email@example.com, the temporary logo change to the iconic ‘doge’ meme, and the seemingly childish move to remove the ‘w’ from ‘twitter’.
The latest controversy generated by the social media platform is the labelling of certain media outlets as state aligned bodies. This has many wondering if this subtle move insinuates that certain media outlets serve a political agenda.
Journalists have taken to Twitter to correct the social media platform for incorrectly tagging media outlets as state aligned bodies. One such media outlet that was tagged incorrectly was the BBC. A number of journalists have taken to Twitter to challenge the social media platform’s fallacious labelling.
Hi @elonmusk.— Jake Kanter (@Jake_Kanter) April 8, 2023
The @BBC is not funded by the UK government.
It is funded by the British public through a system known as the licence fee.
The BBC's operations and editorial decision-making are entirely independent of the government pic.twitter.com/GvMpcSWIMe
Jake Kanter, a former media correspondent for The Times, pointed out that the BBC is not a government funded but rather “funded by the British public through a system known as the licence fee”, and adding that editorial decision making is “entirely independent of the government”.
A number of other journalists have tweeted similar responses to this, including Annette Dittert, a renowned German journalist and correspondent.
What is this, Elon Musk?— Annette Dittert (@annettedittert) April 9, 2023
The BBC is not government funded.
It is funded by the British public through a system known as the licence fee. Entirely different. pic.twitter.com/YHALJnWy1Q
The BBC is not the only media organization that has been mislabeled, or tagged, by Twitter as state aligned organizations. National Public Radio (NPR), was tagged as ‘state-affiliated media’ by Twitter.
NPR President and CEO, John Lansing issued the following statement, “We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media,’ a description that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NPR. NPR and our member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for independent, fact-based journalism we provide.”
A number of emails exchanged between Musk and and NPR led to Musk ultimately admitting that attaching this tag to the media outlet may have been inaccurate after the organization provided provided Musk documentation of NPR’s finances, proving that close to 40% of funding is generated by corporate sponsorships and that 31% was attributed to fees for programming paid by local public radio stations.
An article published by Forbes confirms that Twitter did change NPR’s tag from ‘state-affiliated media’ to ‘government funded’. This change still does not sit well with NPR.
Bobby Allyn of NPR responded with the following tweet.
Tesla, which has received billions of dollars in government subsidies over the years, does not appear to have the label.— Bobby Allyn (@BobbyAllyn) April 8, 2023
Rayhan E. Asat, a human rights lawyer tweeted:
Troubling!— Rayhan E. Asat (@RayhanAsat) April 9, 2023
So dangerous that @elonmusk designated independent media outlets like @BBC and @NPR as government funded media outlet & equating with Russia and China’s state owned media outlets. Bc of these media outlets the world learns about oppression in far corners of the world. pic.twitter.com/adNGC40PDQ
Her Tweet highlights the invaluable work media organizations, such as the BBC and NPR, has contributed to spreading global awareness about the oppressive nature of the Chinese and Russian governments. Applying the ‘state-affiliated media’ label to NPR, that is shared by propaganda media outlets in China and Russia, tarnishes the outlet’s credibility as a public watchdog.
The BBC has taken the issue up with Twitter to change the “government funded media” tag on its official account.
A BBC spokesman states, “We are speaking to Twitter to resolve this issue as soon as possible. The BBC is, and always has been, independent. We are funded by the British public through the license fee.”
At the time of this article’s publishing, the BBC’s official Twitter account boasts 2.2 million followers and still holds the ‘government funded media’ tag. After continued pressure, hopefully Twitter will rectify this potentially damaging attribute.