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NPR quits Twitter, becoming first major U.S. news outlet to do so

The headquarters of National Public Radio in Washington, D.C.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

NPR said Wednesday it will stop sharing content on Twitter after the social media company labeled NPR “state-affiliated media,” a term also used for Russia- and China-based propaganda outlets.

The news outlet’s organizational accounts will no longer post new content on its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major U.S. news organization to do so since Elon Musk took over Twitter late last year.

NPR was surprised by Twitter’s decision to label the company “state-affiliated media,” according to a report by the outlet. When pressed by an NPR reporter in an email exchange, Musk conceded that the label might not have been accurate. Twitter then changed the label on NPR’s account to “government-funded media.”

The news organization said this label is still “inaccurate and misleading” since NPR is an editorially independent nonprofit company, according to the report. NPR “receives less than 1 percent of its $300 million annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting,” the outlet wrote.

NPR did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Twitter responded to a request for comment with a poop emoji.

NPR CEO John Lansing told his employees that NPR “will not immediately return to the platform” even if Twitter drops the designation.

“I would never have our content go anywhere that would risk our credibility,” Lansing said. “At this point, I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Musk tweeted what appeared to be a screenshot of an email from an NPR reporter asking for his reaction to the company’s decision. “Defund NPR,” he wrote in a reply.

Twitter also briefly added a “government-funded media” tag to the British news outlet BBC, but BBC said in a report Wednesday that Musk agreed to change the label to “publicly funded.” As of Wednesday morning, no label is visible on any BBC Twitter accounts.

The new label designations are the latest policy changes Musk has implemented since his tumultuous $44 billion acquisition of the social media platform. During a Twitter Spaces interview Tuesday, Musk said that the Twitter takeover process has been marked by an “extremely high” level of pain.

A vocal critic of the media, Musk called The New York Times’ coverage “propaganda” on April 2 and compared the company’s Twitter feed to “diarrhea” in a tweet.

He stripped the news organization’s verification checkmark shortly thereafter, citing the company’s refusal to pay for the platform’s revamped Twitter Blue subscription service.

Twitter relaunched its updated Twitter Blue subscription service in December after Musk pulled and delayed the launch in November. Subscribers who pay for the service will receive a blue verification badge on their accounts, and Musk said in a tweet Tuesday that legacy verified accounts — including news organizations and journalists — will lose their checkmarks on April 20.

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