Twitter calls BBC “government funded media”
Twitter has slapped the label “government funded media” on the BBC. The world-renowned public service media outlet for the UK is now stressing its own independence and fighting back against the label.
Twitter emphasizes pursuit of transparency
Currently, Twitter is apparently catching up to the all-out attack against famous press portals. So also against the traditional “British Broadcasting Corporation” (BBC). Without further ado, the short news service has labeled the BBC as a government-funded media. Naturally, the BBC does not put up with this and emphasizes its own independence. Industry experts now suspect that Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s negative attitude toward public broadcasters is behind this designation. After all, it is an open secret that the Tesla boss equates financing via broadcasting fees with dependence on the government.
To take action against the label, the BBC wants to have immediately contacted the short message service itself. Here, the broadcaster demanded that the social network remove the label again as soon as possible. Musk himself showed himself in his usual manner and only reacted with the question “Is the Twitter label correct?”. Apparently, the controversial tech billionaire, who moved into the chief days at Twitter in October 2022, wants to tease out more specific details from the BBC. In an email, Musk stresses that he is seeking “maximum transparency and accuracy.” For that reason, he wants Twitter to be clear about “the link to ownership and source of funding.”
Further, he claims that media organizations cannot be “completely free of bias” at all. Here, the image that Musk has of the press in general and the publicly funded media organizations in particular becomes clear. Given the frequently negative coverage of Musk’s leadership style on Twitter, it is probably not surprising that the tech billionaire is negatively disposed toward the press. However, given Musk’s questionable Twitter strategy, it is also extremely difficult to find positive words. For example, the Tesla CEO made the short messaging service negative headlines with decisions such as a gigantic wave of layoffs and the deletion of journalist accounts.
Labeling confuses users
The BBC does not seem to be allergic to the labeling itself. Rather, it is the questionable explanations that can be read on Twitter’s help pages. There, “government funded media” are summarily equated with media close to the state. This is likely to suggest to many users that the BBC is controlled by British politics. A closer reading reinforces the impression. Thus, on the help page, it is further written that such media experience “through financial resources, direct or indirect pressure and/or control” by politics. So anyone who has this label slapped on them is classified by Twitter as a state-directed media outlet.
What is particularly curious is that Twitter, on the same page, absolves the BBC of the accusations of being state-directed. Thus, one can further read here that “State-funded media organizations that are editorially independent, such as the BBC in the United Kingdom […] are not considered state-owned media for the purposes of this policy.” Incidentally, Twitter only added the supplement as a result of the first critical voices on the help page. Furthermore, the BBC criticizes Twitter for apparently not enforcing its approach consistently enough. For example, the media agency has several channels on the cure news service. However, only the normal BBC account has received the label.
Other BBC channels linked to it, some of which have significantly more followers, in turn did not receive the label. Now, of course, the question arises as to where the whole thing is supposed to lead. If Twitter has its way, it would like to extend the awarding of the label to other countries over time. The same applies to the help pages. More detailed explanations and an expansion of the examples will follow. It is clear that the label could not only damage the reputation of the media companies concerned. On top of that, they will be ignored by the algorithm. Twitter itself has admitted this. This could ensure that serious media are no longer heard or read on Twitter over time. Whether this is really a step in the right direction is highly questionable.
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