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Twitter drops ‘state-affiliated’ labels

Accounts for outlets such as the BBC, Global Times, and RT are no longer labeled as government-funded media

Twitter has removed ‘state-affiliated’ and ‘government-funded’ labels from major media accounts as part of an unannounced update. The move on Friday follows a string of spats between Twitter and several news organizations over the designations. 

Twitter had applied the controversial labels to numerous accounts over the last few weeks, including the BBC, Canada’s CBC, and America’s NPR. In response, the outlets threatened to leave Twitter and suspended their activity on the platform, arguing that the tags were an attempt to undermine their legitimacy or suggest a lack of editorial independence. 

CEO Elon Musk explained that Twitter was only “trying to be accurate” and even changed some of the labels, switching the BBC’s designation from “government-funded” to “publicly-funded,” while CBC’s tag was reworded as “69% government-funded.” 

However, as of Friday, no labels could be seen on any of the accounts mentioned. The tag was also removed from other media outlets, including Russia’s RT and Sputnik, and China’s Global Times and Xinhua. The label was likewise absent from the accounts of journalists associated with the outlets. 

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Elon Musk speaks at a Tesla manufacturing plant opening party in Austin, Texas, April 7, 2022
Musk changes CBC’s label to ‘69% government-funded’

Before Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter last year, the “state-affiliated media” tag had primarily been reserved for non-Western outlets, mainly in Russia and China. Twitter’s previous management said in 2020 that the designation was meant to inform the public “when a media account is affiliated directly or indirectly with a state actor.” Twitter also said at the time that it would stop amplifying such accounts or their tweets through its recommendation systems. 

The latest update to the platform has also seen the long-anticipated removal of all legacy blue check marks that previously identified the verified accounts of celebrities, journalists, and prominent politicians. Those wishing to have the icon next to their name must now pay an $8-per-month Twitter Blue subscription fee. 

Musk announced the dismantling of the legacy blue checkmark shortly after he closed the deal to purchase Twitter, revealing he wanted to monetize the feature to make the company more profitable. In addition to the basic Twitter Blue subscription, the platform now offers businesses a $1,000-per-month gold verification badge, which also allows them to verify their affiliates.

April 21, 2023 at 06:14PM

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