Twitter adds more ‘government-funded’ labels to global news outlets

Twitter is rolling out more “government-funded media” labels on the accounts of international news outlets. These include the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC Australia), Australia’s Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), New Zealand’s public broadcaster RNZ, Sweden’s SR Ekot and SVT, and Catalonia’s

“For more than 90 years the ABC has always been and remains an independent media organisation, free from political and commercial interests,” ABC wrote on Twitter, in response the change.

Meanwhile, representatives from SBS worried that the label might lead Twitter users to believe that the outlet is editorially controlled by the government, which is not the case.

“While we appreciate Twitter’s motivations with regard to transparency on its platform, we believe a ‘Publicly-funded media’ label better reflects the hybrid public-commercial nature of our funding model and the fact that SBS retains full independence from Government in our news editorial and content decision making,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

Twitter gave the BBC this “publicly-funded” label, which seems less misleading than “government-funded.” Yet Twitter still applied the “government-funded” label to NPR, a network receiving 1% of its funding from the U.S. government (and at first, Twitter labeled NPR as “state-affiliated,” a designation reserved for publications like Russia’s RT). NPR has left Twitter as a result.

“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.”

Following this report, CBC joined NPR, PBS, and other newsrooms in stepping away from Twitter, noting in a tweet that, “journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on @Twitter.”

Updated 4/17/23, 3 PM ET with CBC’s decision to pause Twitter usage.