Twitter logo on mobile, October 14, 2022.
Washington – The social network Twitter, without explanation, has removed captions that were previously displayed on the profiles of selected world media. In addition to the recently introduced designations about government or public funding that appeared on the accounts of the British BBC or the American NPR, the mention of the state nature of the medium used for a long time by Russian or Chinese organizations also disappeared. The change came Thursday evening along with the removal of the blue logo from the names of users who had previously obtained it based on identity verification.
This continues the chaotic development surrounding Twitter's media tagging policy that began approximately two weeks ago. Until then, the platform only used the label “state-affiliated media”, which it applied to state organizations such as Russia's RT television or China's New China News Agency. At the beginning of April, he attached this designation to the main account of the American public radio network NPR, although until then he explicitly stated that this institution does not fall into this category, as it has editorial independence.
A wave of outrage followed, culminating in the termination of NPR's Twitter activity. The social network has since changed the description of the account of this medium to “government-funded medium” and extended this classification to other media, also to their displeasure. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) also left Twitter, as did Swedish public broadcaster Sveriges Radio (SR), while the BBC's protest resulted in the wording being changed to “publicly funded media”.
Now all of those captions have disappeared, with Twitter, like previous changes, not explaining the move. The owner of the company, Elon Musk, said in an interview with the BBC last week that his company tries to be accurate in classifying the media, while the American billionaire has recently repeatedly expressed his dislike for traditional media.
NPR accused Musk's platform last week from trying to undermine the media's credibility. The government-funded media label, critics say, can create the impression that the government has influence over news content.
While Twitter only applied the label for the first time this month, labeling Russian, Chinese or Iranian media outlets and officials in this way began as early as 2020. The policy applied to “senior officials and entities that are the official voice of the nation-state abroad”. In addition to the already mentioned organizations, captions about ties to the state were displayed on the profiles of the Chinese state television CCTV or Iranian Press TV.
After the removal of these warnings, the Russian propagandist and head of RT Margarita Simonyan sent a message of thanks to Musk. “Now you can find me in search,” she announced in a Twitter post.