Twitter’s equating of public media with state media is dangerous

Twitter is now telling its users that National Public Radio, the US public radio broadcaster also known as NPR, is a “state-affiliated media” – in the same way that RT, the former Russia Today, is affiliated to the Russian state. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls for the withdrawal of this grotesque label, which equates good journalism with propaganda.

Twitter added the “US state-affiliated media” tag to NPR’s account on 4 March. Until then, the “state-affiliated media” label had been reserved for media outlets such as RT whose editorial policies are closely controlled by governments. The only justification given for this decision has been a two-word Tweet by Musk – “seems accurate.” 

RSF calls on Twitter to immediately withdraw the label that it has applied to NPR, which confuses public media with state media.

“Elon Musk's Twitter continues its transformation into a nihilistic universe where words no longer have meaning. The confusion between media serving the general interest and propaganda media is dangerous, and is yet further proof that social media platforms are not competent to identify what is and is not journalism. This label should be removed at once from NPR’s Twitter account.”

Vincent Berthier

Head of RSF’s Tech Desk

By equating a public interest media with a propaganda media, Twitter is continuing its practice of abusing the media and journalists. The platform is resolutely turning its back on the general interest and is getting ever more deeply ensnared in its new owner’s delirium. It is time for the world’s democracies to react.

Given the volume of people who use Twitter, it is clearly one of the platforms that shape and structure the global news and information arena. The absurdity of Musk’s behaviour shows that these platforms must be put at the service of the general interest, and that their policies cannot be decreed by a single man.

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Updated on 07.04.2023