Twitter appears to have removed all government-affiliation labels from news organizations’ accounts after the platform was accused of mischaracterizing the editorial independence of publicly-funded newsrooms. Several news accounts, including NPR, CBC, and PBS said they would stop tweeting over the inaccurate labels.
Twitter also appears to have taken down its page outlining what classifies newsrooms as “government-funded” or “state-affiliated.”
The accounts of organizations like NPR, PBS, CBC, and BBC no longer have the tag of “Government-funded media” underneath their handles.
Accounts for state media organizations in Russia and China, like RT and Xinhua News, also no longer have a “state-affiliated” label.
Journalists from state-run and state-controlled media outlets in Russia and China celebrated the removal of the “state-affiliated” labels, saying that the changes will now allow them to reach a wider audience.
“You can now find me in the search results,” tweeted Margarita Simonyan, the editor-in-chief of RT — a Russian state-controlled news station. “Thanks, bro, @elonmusk.”
“What that label really did is shadow-[ban] us,” tweeted Li Jingjing, a reporter at CGTN, a state-run news channel controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. “Few people could see my post and even my account due to the label Twitter put on us. I hope this removal means our content won’t be shadow-banned anymore.”
Twitter first designated publicly-funded newsrooms as "state-affiliated media" on April 4, receiving widespread criticism because the label mischaracterized newsrooms like NPR as having little editorial independence from the government.
Twitter later changed the Western newsrooms' accounts to "government-funded media," but its company policy page still categorized them as "outlets where the government provides some or all of the outlet's funding and may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content."
While Chinese and Russian journalists are praising the platform's decision, recent investigations have found that Twitter may have already been promoting their accounts and posts, which would be violation of company policy.
- There have been concerns that Elon Musk’s deep business ties to China could influence how Twitter moderates conversation on sensitive topics, as Semafor’s Louise Matsakis has reported.
- Twitter “took a chainsaw” to a previous visibility filtering rule under Musk’s direction, an NPR investigation revealed. That means that there are no longer guardrails against those amplifying content like Russian or Chinese propaganda.