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Twitter removes “government-funded” labels from news accounts

The labels prompted NPR and Canada's CBC News to stop posting content to Twitter in protest.

The labels prompted NPR and Canada's CBC News to stop posting content to Twitter in protest.

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)

Social media platform Twitter has quietly removed a controversial “government-funded” label from the public accounts of several news organizations, including NPR, the BBC, CBC News and Australia’s ABC News.

The four news organizations were among several that received the problematic tags over the last few weeks. Each one complained that the tag was misleading, in that it suggested government agencies were in control of their editorial output.

Public radio producer NPR and Canada’s CBC each stopped posting new content to Twitter in protest of the labels.

It wasn’t clear why the labels were removed, but a review of NPR, the BBC, CBC and ABC News accounts by The Desk early Friday morning showed the tags were no longer present.

The labels were apparently removed at some point on Thursday, and may have been connected to a decision by Twitter owner Elon Musk to remove blue verification badges from accounts unless those users paid for Twitter Blue, a subscription service that costs $8 a month.

The account for NPR had a blue verification badge until Thursday, as did the accounts of the BBC and ABC News. The CBC News account contains a gold verification badge because the Canadian public broadcaster pays for an enterprise feature called Verified Organizations, which starts at $1,000 a month.

No one at Twitter has been available to answer media questions sent to an e-mail address used by reporters, which now automatically responds to all messages with a picture of poop. Twitter’s media relations team was laid off in November, shortly after Musk closed on his $44 billion deal to take Twitter private.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 10 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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