PBS has joined NPR in quitting Twitter over the social media platform's decision to label their accounts as "government-funded media." Twitter added the label to the accounts of several news organizations that receive funding from the U.S. government. It's used similar tags to describe state-run media outlets in Russia and China.
"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 Bloomberg. "We are continuing to monitor the ever-changing situation closely."
Twitter owner Elon Musk posted a screenshot of an email he had received from NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn criticizing the platform for the new profile tags.
"Because of the label, NPR is quitting Twitter across all of our 50+ accounts," the email read. "Our executives say the government-funded media label calls into question our editorial independence and undermines our credibility."
Musk pointed out that NPR's website says federal funding is "essential" to the organization.
NPR and PBS do receive some monetary support from the U.S. government, but most of their funding comes through corporate sponsorships, core and programming fees, and individual donors. Both organizations operate as nonprofits and have committed to providing independent journalism and programming to the American public.
“Guess they won’t mind losing federal funding in that case,” Musk said in one tweet. “Defund NPR,” he wrote in another.
Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion last year and has since made sweeping changes to the platform, including removal of the ubiquitous blue check mark that was once used to verify the profiles of media organizations, government agencies and prominent individuals that are prone to copycat accounts.