NPR leaves Twitter due to misleading ‘government-funded media’ label

NPR will no longer update its 52 Twitter accounts, including the primary @NPR handle, which has nearly 9 million followers. These accounts include NPR’s topic-specific feeds like NPR Politics, as well as individual radio shows like Weekend Edition.

Last week, Twitter placed a “state-affiliated media” label on NPR’s account, representing the American news nonprofit in the same way that it denotes RT, Russia’s state-backed mouthpiece that pushes the Kremlin’s talking points to the broader world. But the U.S. government does not have any sort of editorial control over NPR, and the news organization only received about 1% of its budget from federal funding in 2020. The label on NPR’s account was amended to “government-funded media,” yet NPR representatives have stated that this description is still misleading.

“At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter,” NPR CEO John Lansing told an NPR reporter. “I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again.”

According to Twitter, the “government-funded” label applies to any news outlet receiving “some or all” funding from the government, which “may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.” Twitter also assigned this label to the BBC.

Twitter owner Elon Musk has targeted mainstream media outlets like The New York Times, stripping the account — followed by 55 million people — of its verified checkmark. All verified accounts that do not subscribe to Twitter Blue are expected to lose their checkmark by April 20 (delayed from April1), but the social platform took extra care to remove The New York Times’ badge as soon as possible. This makes it very easy for users to impersonate the major news source, and can also spark confusion around whether this account is real.