Twitter on Thursday removed the “government-funded media” tag on public broadcasters, including the CBC, without any explanation.
The move came after the Global Task Force on Public Media asked Twitter earlier today to correct its description of public broadcasters in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.
The group chaired by CBC President Catherine Tait said Twitter had applied the label without warning to the accounts of CBC/Radio-Canada, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (known as ABC), the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) and Radio New Zealand (RNZ).
He noted that Twitter’s own policy defines government-funded media as those that may have varying degrees of government involvement in editorial content.
WATCH / Explain objections from public broadcasters:
The task force said that was not the case here, where editorial independence is protected by law and enshrined in editorial policies.
He said the more accurate label would be “publicly funded media”.
Twitter initially labeled several British Broadcasting Corporation accounts “government-funded media”, but changed this to “state-funded media” after the BBC objected.
The BBC is also a member of the Global Task Force, along with France Télévisions, Germany’s ZDF and Sweden’s SVT.
“Labelling them in this way misleads the public about their operational and editorial independence from government,” the task force said in a statement Thursday.
CBC raised similar objections and Brodie Fenlon, editor and executive director of programming and standards for CBC News, explained why the media organization was suspending activity on its Twitter accounts.
“We cannot in good conscience continue to post news and factual information on Twitter, or engage in it, while a false impression of government involvement in our work is permitted,” Fenlon wrote. “As a news organization committed to truth, facts and accuracy, we cannot accept a label that promotes misinformation about who we are and what we do.”
CBC spokesman Chuck Thompson said Friday that the organization is “reviewing this latest development and will leave our [Twitter] paused accounts before moving on to the next steps.”
Twitter also removed the “state-affiliated media” tag from the accounts of Xinhua News in China and RT in Russia.
The checks disappear
Tesla and SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk introduced several changes after buying Twitter for US$44 billion last October.
One of the changes was to remove blue checks from accounts that don’t pay a monthly fee to keep them, and it looks like Twitter was starting to deliver on that promise on Thursday.
Twitter had around 300,000 verified users under the original blue verification system launched around 14 years ago – many of them journalists, athletes and public figures. In addition to protecting celebrities from impersonators, one of the main reasons for verification was to provide an additional tool to combat misinformation from accounts impersonating people.
WATCH | The reliability of information is an open question in the future:
High profile users who lost their blue checks on Thursday included Beyoncé, Pope Francis, BTS, Oprah Winfrey and former President Donald Trump.
One of Musk’s first product moves after taking over Twitter was to launch a service that gave blue checks to anyone willing to pay US$8 a month. But it was quickly inundated with accounts of imposters, including those impersonating Nintendo, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and the businesses of Musk, Tesla and SpaceX, so Twitter had to temporarily suspend the service days after its release. launch.
The revived service costs $8 per month for internet users and $11 per month for users of its iPhone or Android apps. Brand maintenance costs range from a starting price of $1,000 per month to verify an organization, plus $50 per month for each affiliate account or employee. Twitter does not verify individual accounts, as was the case with the previous blue verification distributed during the pre-Musk administration of the platform.
Subscribers are supposed to see fewer ads, be able to post longer videos, and have their tweets highlighted.
Celebrity users, from basketball star LeBron James to author Stephen King and Star Trek’s William Shatner, were hesitant to join – although on Thursday all three had blue checks, indicating the account had paid for verification.
Musk later tweeted that he personally paid for King, Shatner and James to keep their checks.
Adoption shouldn’t be a boon to revenue
It’s not just celebrities and journalists who lost their blue checks on Thursday. Many accounts from government agencies, nonprofits, and public services around the world have become unverified, raising concerns that Twitter is losing its status as a platform for obtaining accurate and timely information. updated from authentic sources, including in case of emergency.
While Twitter offers gold checks for “verified organizations” and gray checks for government organizations and their affiliates, it’s unclear how the platform distributes them, and they weren’t seen on many Thursdays. previously audited agency and utility accounts.
The official New York City Government Twitter account, which previously had a blue check, tweeted on Thursday, “This is an authentic Twitter account representing the New York City Government. This is the only account for @NYCGov operated by the government of the city of New York”. in an attempt to clear up the confusion.
A newly created fake account with 36 followers, also without a blue tick, disagreed: “No, you’re not. THIS account is the only authentic Twitter account representing and operated by the city government of New York.”
Fewer than 5% of old verified accounts appear to have paid to join Twitter Blue on Thursday, according to an analysis by Travis Brown, a Berlin-based software developer for social media monitoring.
Digital intelligence platform Similarweb analyzed the number of people signed up for Twitter Blue on their desktop computers and found only 116,000 confirmed signups last month, which, at $8 or $11 a month, doesn’t not represent a major source of income. The analysis, however, did not count accounts purchased through mobile apps.
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