CBC Joins the Ranks of Large News Organizations Ditching Twitter

The CBC is decided to ditch Twitter after having the “government-funded media” label slapped on their official account.

There’s been a growing list of large media organizations dropping or suspending their Twitter activities after the government-funded Elon Musk began running the platform.

Last year, in response to the chaos and uncertainty of Elon Musk’s ownership of the platform, CBS News paused their activities on the platform. From Variety:

CBS News is halting its activity on Twitter over Elon Musk’s turbulent and potentially devastating moves following his takeover of the company.

“In light of the uncertainty around Twitter and out of an abundance of caution, CBS News is pausing its activity on the social media site as it continues to monitor the platform,” Jonathan Vigliotti, CBS News national correspondent, said in a report about the latest chaos at the company on the “CBS Evening News” Friday.

Earlier this month, NPR also quit Twitter after having the “government-funded media” label slapped on their account. From Techdirt:

The only surprising thing here is that it took this long: NPR has officially announced that it has quit Twitter. This is in response to Elon’s chaotic decision to first label the account “state-affiliated media,” a label that was designed to help users understand if a media organization was actually a dedicated mouthpiece of the government (which NPR is not). Indeed, NPR was initially the example that Twitter used as to the types of media organizations that such a label should not apply to.

After receiving some pushback for this, and revealing his near total lack of intellectual curiosity on the matter, Musk agreed to change the label to “government funded media,” despite that being misleading as well (and again, it seems that such a label would apply just as much to Twitter itself).

NPR had stopped posting to its main Twitter account after the initial label was made, and on Wednesday morning announced that it was leaving for good:

NPR will no longer post fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform. In explaining its decision, NPR cited Twitter’s decision to first label the network “state-affiliated media,” the same term it uses for propaganda outlets in Russia, China and other autocratic countries.

The reasoning, explained by NPR CEO John Lansing, is about more than just the label, but about how the label came to be:

“At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter,” he says. “I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again.”

At around the same time, PBS also decided to leave Twitter. From Yahoo! News:

NPR isn’t the only public broadcaster to stop tweeting after Twitter applied a “government-funded media” label to its account. PBS has halted its use of the platform too. The organization hasn’t posted on its Twitter account since April 8th.

Both PBS and NPR claim the label, which previously read “state-affiliated media,” doesn’t represent them accurately. Twitter previously reserved such labels for state-run outlets like China’s Xinhua News Agency and Russia’s RT and Sputnik.

“PBS stopped tweeting from our account when we learned of the change and we have no plans to resume at this time,” a PBS spokesperson told Variety. “We are continuing to monitor the ever-changing situation closely.”

Federal funding accounts for around 15 percent of public television system revenue, PBS says. The biggest chunk of revenue, 31 percent, comes from donations from individuals. NPR, meanwhile, says federal funding makes up less than one percent of its average annual budget. The broadcaster says it stopped using Twitter in large part to protect its credibility, suggesting the label implies that the government has editorial influence over it. NPR says it’s “a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence.”

Today, we are learning that Canadian news organization, the CBC, has also put a pause on their account. From the CBC:

CBC/Radio-Canada has paused activities on its corporate and news Twitter accounts, after the social media platform put a “government-funded media” label on its @CBC account, in its latest move to stamp public broadcasters with designations.

“Twitter can be a powerful tool for our journalists to communicate with Canadians, but it undermines the accuracy and professionalism of the work they do to allow our independence to be falsely described in this way,” said corporate spokesperson Leon Mar.

“Consequently, we will be pausing our activity on our corporate Twitter account and all CBC and Radio-Canada news-related accounts.”

The CBC blames Conservative leader, Pierre Poilievre for the label appearing on their account:

Mar later said that Twitter did not consult with CBC before applying the label.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre had recently called on Twitter CEO Elon Musk to add a “government-funded” label to accounts that promote “news-related” content from CBC.

Reacting to the label being implemented on Sunday, Poilievre tweeted that the CBC has been “officially exposed” as “Trudeau propaganda, not news.”

While there is a lot of political undercurrents going on here, there is the broader picture of Musk driving away various organizations from his platform. It’s part of the overall chaos and destruction that continues to happen on the platform ever since Musk took over. Whether it is the increasing censorship, the growing legal liabilities, or the increased fragility of the platform, the platform is continuing to burn down by the week.

The latest moves by the above media outlets are likely going to increase pressure from the remaining large outlets to ditch Twitter as well. Though the moves won’t necessarily dethrone Twitter as being a dominant platform overnight, it will slowly chip away at the few remaining strengths of Twitter.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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