NPR is Not RT: Twitter’s New State-Affiliated Media Policy is Misleading

Joseph Bodnar is a research analyst at the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, where he tracks Russian propaganda and disinformation. On April 4, Twitter placed a state-affiliated media label on NPR’s account. The label is meant to provide users with context when they see a media account that is under a state’s editorial control, like Russia’s RT and China’s People’s Daily that lack organizational and financial firewalls to insulate their coverage from government interference. NPR doesn’t fit that description. The outlet gets less than 1% of its funding from the federal government. The other 99% comes largely from corporate sponsorships, membership drives, and fees from affiliate radio stations. This arrangement ensures that NPR remains free from state control. Twitter’s move to add a state media label to NPR’s account therefore equates editorially independent media with propaganda outlets used by autocratic regimes to do things like cover up war crimes and cultural genocide.   At the time Twitter labeled NPR, the platform’s own policy explicitly named the public broadcaster as an example of media that receives state funding but maintains its editorial freedom. NPR did nothing to force Twitter’s policy change. The way the platform makes content moderation decisions changed. A team that understood state-backed media and information campaigns used to oversee those policies. Now, rules are being dictated by a person whose ideas often seem to reflect advice given by trolls.   Regardless, Twitter’s labeling of NPR does not appear to be part of any broader policy change—at…NPR is Not RT: Twitter’s New State-Affiliated Media Policy is Misleading