Elon Musk threatens to reassign NPR’s Twitter account due to alleged inactivity Twitter owner Elon Musk reportedly emailed an NPR reporter to ask if the organization is returning to the website and to suggest that For failing which the company can reassign their account.
According to NPR, Musk sent an unflattering email to one of his reporters that read: “So is NPR going to start posting on Twitter again, or should we reassign @NPR to another company ?” after being labeled as “state-affiliated media” in April along with state-run outlets such as China’s Xinhua news agency and Russia’s RT.
Before NPR decided to drop Twitter altogether, the social network changed the label to “government-funded media” after being called out. However, NPR said the updated label is still “inaccurate and misleading”, as it is “a private, non-profit company with editorial independence.” The label also prompted PBS to drop the website. Twitter eventually decided to remove the “government-funded media” label entirely, even from state-run outlets, but neither the NPR nor the PBS website has backed down.
Musk’s surprise email turned into an exchange with the executive, in which he reportedly wrote in one of his responses: “NPR is no longer tagged as government-funded, so what’s the beef?” And when asked who would handle the NPR account on Twitter, he replied: “National Pumpkin Radio,” accompanied by a few emojis. We reached out to Twitter for a statement but the company does not have a communication team right now.
Under Twitter’s policy, the company said users can log in once every 30 days to keep their account active. In addition, it said that accounts can be permanently deleted due to inactivity, but it “cannot release inactive usernames at this time.” It encourages people to find a variation if the username they want is “used by an account that appears to be inactive.”
However, NPR noted that in their email exchange, Musk told the organization that Twitter’s “policy is to recycle handles that are definitely inactive.” He categorically said: “Same policy applies to all accounts. There is no special treatment for NPR.” It’s unclear whether Twitter intends to update its official policy page for inactive accounts with that information, and whether it will implement safeguards to protect former users from impersonation.
After a weeks-long tussle with Twitter and owner Elon Musk over the labels the company applies to its accounts, NPR said it would no longer use the platform at all. The organization criticized Twitter last week over the “state-affiliated media” label it placed on its main account. Twitter later updated the text to read “Government funded media”.
However, NPR said that the latest incarnation of the label is “false and misleading”, as it is “a private, non-profit company with editorial independence.” The organization reported that federal funding makes up less than one percent of its $300 million annual budget.
NPR CEO John Lansing said that, as a result of the label, the broadcaster is leaving Twitter to protect its credibility. Until recently, Twitter generally reserved the “state-affiliated media” tag for government-run outlets such as Russia’s RT and Sputnik and China’s Xinhua news agency.
Lansing said, “At this point I have lost faith in Twitter’s decision-making.” “I need some time to understand if Twitter can be trusted again.” The NPR chief also said that “the decline of Twitter’s culture” also played a part in the organization’s decision to stop using the platform.
Going forward, NPR “will not be posting new content” on any of its 52 official feeds. NPR is giving workers handling their Twitter accounts a two-week grace period to rework their social media strategies. For one thing, they have directed NPR’s Twitter followers to the broadcaster’s newsletters and accounts on other social media platforms. The company is leaving it up to employees to decide whether or not to continue using their personal Twitter accounts.
Twitter has also applied a “government-funded media” label to the BBC’s Twitter account, a move the organization has also objected to. In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Musk said the company would change the BBC’s label to appear “publicly funded”. This would be a more accurate description of how the BBC is funded. Nevertheless, Lansing claimed that even if Twitter backtracked and removed the label from NPR’s account, the organization would not immediately start tweeting again.