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NPR goes dark on Twitter over errant “state-affiliated’ label

(Photo courtesy NPR)

Radio program distributor NPR has stopped posting content to social media platform Twitter after objecting to errant labels that were affixed to its main profile nearly two weeks ago.

On Wednesday, officials at NPR said the decision to leave Twitter was meant to help it maintain a sense of credibility and continue producing news and radio programs without “a shadow of negativity.”

The outlet was apparently not swayed by an interview conducted by the BBC with Twitter owner Elon Musk in which he said the social media company might amend the label to read “publicly-funded.” Musk ordered a similar change on the main account of the BBC, which initially — and wrongly — claimed that the outlet was “government-funded.”

Musk took the same measure with respect to NPR’s account, changing the “state-affiliated” label to one that said it was “government-funded.” The label is still misleading, since NPR receives only around 1 percent of its funding from a government-controlled not-for-profit corporation; the majority of its funding comes from private grants, corporate sponsorship and revenue generated through the sale of public radio programming to local broadcast stations.

In an article outlining NPR’s decision, reporter David Folkenflik said the public radio producer was “the first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform,” though NPR is actually the second — the Fox News Channel went dark on Twitter in 2018 after the home address of its prime-time commentator Tucker Carlson was distributed on the social platform with apparent impunity (Fox News revived its account 18 months later to post information on the global coronavirus pandemic).

More than 50 profiles used by NPR were put in a state of indefinite and voluntary suspension after executives at the organization decided to stop using Twitter. Before leaving the platform, the main profile used by NPR encouraged listeners to sign up for its “Up First” newsletter, download its smartphone app and enable push alerts for news updates.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).