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Elon Musk removes Twitter’s ‘government-funded media’ labels after outlets flee the platform

Elon Musk removes Twitter’s ‘government-funded media’ labels after outlets flee the platform


Musk told NPR reporter Bobby Allyn that it was ‘Walter Isaacson’s suggestion.’

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Illustration: Alex Castro / The Verge

Twitter has removed the “government-funded” and “state-affiliated” labels that led several news outlets to stop tweeting on the platform. When asked why Twitter has dropped the labels, Elon Musk says it was a “suggestion” from Walter Isaacson, the author of his upcoming biography, according to NPR reporter Bobby Allyn.

The labels have already disappeared from the profiles of NPR, PBS, CBC, and BBC, all of which publicly criticized the move. NPR became the first major media organization to leave the platform after getting slapped with the “state-affiliated” label and was later followed by PBS and CBC.

NPR’s profile no longer has a “state-affiliated” media label.
NPR’s profile no longer has a “state-affiliated” media label.

The labels have also been removed from state-controlled media organizations, like Russia’s RT and China Xinhua News. Twitter seems to have scrapped its media labeling rules altogether, as it has since taken down the page where it once outlined its criteria for adding the labels. This page is still available on the Internet Archive.

Neither NPR, PBS, nor CBC have said whether they will resume their activity on Twitter now that the labels are gone. In a statement provided to The Verge, CBC spokesperson Leon Mar says the organization is “reviewing this latest development and will leave our Twitter accounts on pause before taking any next steps.” NPR and PBS didn’t immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment, but we’ll update this article if we hear back.

Musk’s abrupt decision to pull labels for news organizations on Twitter comes less than a day after the platform started getting rid of legacy verified checkmarks and requiring users to pay. That rule apparently doesn’t apply to everyone, though, as Musk gave a Blue checkmark to Twitter critics LeBron James and Stephen King free of charge. Musk’s Twitter has also removed guardrails intended to limit the visibility of propaganda from Russian, Chinese, and Iranian government accounts, NPR reports.

Update April 21st, 3:08PM ET: Added NPR’s report that Twitter has removed visibility filtering rules from Russian, Chinese, and Iranian government accounts.