NPR President and CEO John Lansing said he was “disturbed” to see the network’s official Twitter account labeled as “state-affiliated media.”
The label was attached to @NPR by Twitter on Tuesday. In a statement on Wednesday, National Public Radio’s Lansing said the designation does not apply.
“We were disturbed to see last night that Twitter has labeled NPR as ‘state-affiliated media,’ a designation that, per Twitter’s own guidelines, does not apply to NRP,” Lansing wrote. “NPR and our members 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.”
Lansing went on to say the label from Twitter is “unacceptable.”
NPR is a non-profit organization that receives funding through corporate sponsors, membership fees, grants and fees paid to the Public Radio Satellite System. Some stations also receive funding from state and local governments. NPR says 99% of its funds do not come from federal sources.
According to Twitter’s guidelines, state-affiliated media is defined as a media organization, “where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution.”
Other accounts labeled “state-affiliated media” include Russia’s state sponsored news agency TASS and the official news agency of the People’s Republic of China, New China News Agency.
Organizations such as BBC, which are state-financed, are not considered state-affiliated under these guidelines because their editorial team operates independent of state influence.
Responding to a tweet congratulating him for NPR’s designation, Twitter CEO Elon Musk shared the definition from Twitter’s guidelines, adding “Seems accurate.”
Yoel Roth, Twitter’s former head of trust and safety, said the label defies Twitter’s guidelines.
Another guideline page from Twitter — focusing on China — specifically names NPR as an example of a state-financed media outlet that operates independently from the government.
“Twitter’s decision to label NPR as a state media outlet flies in the face of years of research, all evidence about NPR’s funding and governance, and Twitter’s own policies and principles,” Roth told NPR.
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