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Twitter labels NPR as

National Public Radio has been labeled as “U.S. state-affiliated media” on Twitter, marking the public radio outlet’s account with the same icon placed on outlets like Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS or China’s New China News Agency, the official state news agency of the People’s Republic of China 

The label has only been applied to NPR’s primary Twitter account and is not currently on accounts like NPR Politics or NPR Health. 

Twitter, owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has long labeled state-owned media companies. According to the site, the labels “provide additional context about accounts that are controlled by certain official representatives of governments, state-affiliated media entities and individuals associated with those entities.” 

Twitter further defines state-affiliated media 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,” and notes that state-financed organizations with editorial independence, like the BBC in the United Kingdom, are not defined as state-affiliated media. 

NPR reporter David Gura shared two screenshots pointing out that NPR was once listed alongside the BBC as a state-funded organization that was not defined as state-affiliated because it was editorially independent. 

NPR is not owned by the United States government or controlled by a government representative. In the 1970s and 1980s, it was primarily government-funded but steps were taken to change its financial structure. The Capital Research Center‘s watchdog site Influence Watch estimates that NPR currently receives less than 1% of its annual budget directly from the federal government and almost 10% of its budget comes indirectly from state, federal and local governments. 

The nonprofit media organization is primarily funded by dues and fees paid by member stations and corporate sponsor donations. 

When CBS News reached out to Twitter’s press contact to clarify why NPR had received this label, Twitter responded with an automated poop emoji

NPR’s chief executive officer John Lansing reacted to the change on Twitter on Tuesday night. 

“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,” Lansing wrote. “NPR and our member stations are supported by millions of listeners who depend on us for the independent, fact-based journalism we provide. NPR stands for freedom of speech and holding the powerful accountable. It is unacceptable for Twitter to label us this way. A vigorous, vibrant free press is essential to the health of our democracy.” 

The move by Twitter follows a decision to remove the “Verified” checkmark from the New York Times’ main Twitter account after the news organization said it would not pay for Twitter Blue, a service launched before Musk’s Twitter takeover but revamped by the Tesla founder. Musk also criticized the Times after announcing he would have the icon removed. 

Musk said in 2022 that legacy blue checks would be removed and that the only way to have one would be to pay for Twitter Blue, sparking controversy and concern about the possibility of misinformation on the site. Legacy checkmarks were set to be removed on Apr. 1, causing many verified outlets and users – including basketball star LeBron James – to say they would not pay for the service. So far, the legacy checkmarks are still visible on the site. 

Since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has also briefly suspended the accounts of journalists that cover the site. Twitter also changed its logo to the once-popular “Doge” meme on Monday, causing a related cryptocurrency known as “Dogecoin” to increase in value. 

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