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Twitter adds more controversial labels to news accounts

A sign attached to Twitter's global headquarters is viewed from a sidewalk on Market Street in San Francisco, California. June 18, 2014. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk/Creative Commons)
A sign attached to Twitter’s global headquarters is viewed from a sidewalk on Market Street in San Francisco, California. June 18, 2014. (Photo: Matthew Keys/The Desk/Creative Commons)

Twitter has affixed a controversial “government-funded” label to more news-related profiles, including that of Australian broadcaster ABC News and Canada’s CBC.

The decision to add the label comes several weeks after Twitter added controversial labels to profiles used by public radio program distributor NPR and British-based broadcaster BBC, even though neither receive a majority of its funding from any government agency or source.

On Sunday, a spokesperson for ABC News Australia said its funding is dictated by the ABC Charter, which is part of Australia’s broadcast regulation. The charter says the ABC receives funding from the public, but its editorial mission is “free from political and commercial interests.”

Twitter’s decision to label the CBC as “government-funded” appears to answer some calls from conservative politicians in Canada, who urged Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk to place such a label on the account. The broadcaster received around $1.2 billion in public funding last year, according to the latest impact and accountability report made available by the CBC.

Like ABC News Australia, officials at the CBC affirmed the network is part of a corporation owned by the government, but said its editorial operations were not influenced by any government agency.

“Twitter’s own policy defines government-funded media as cases where the government ‘may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content,’ which is clearly not the case with CBC,” Leon Mar, a spokesperson for CBC, said in a statement. “CBC [and its sister broadcaster,] Radio-Canada [are] publicly funded through a parliamentary appropriation that is voted upon by all Members of Parliament. Its editorial independence is protected in law in the Broadcasting Act.”

Mar told the CBC that Twitter didn’t reach out to anyone at the network before putting the label on the account.

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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).