Twitter is rolling out new "government-funded media" labels on international news outlets' accounts, including ABC Australia, SBS Australia, RNZ from New Zealand, SR Ekot, and SVT from Sweden, and Catalonia's TV3.cat. The labels are intended to increase transparency about the funding sources behind news organizations. However, some outlets are concerned that the labels may be misleading, as they imply editorial control by governments, which is not always the case. For instance, representatives from SBS argue that a "publicly-funded media" label would be more appropriate as it reflects their hybrid public-commercial funding model and their editorial independence from the government.
Twitter previously gave the BBC a "publicly-funded" label, which may be less misleading than "government-funded." However, Twitter applied the "government-funded" label to NPR, which receives only 1% of its funding from the US government. NPR was initially labeled as "state-affiliated," which is a designation reserved for publications like Russia's RT. NPR has now left Twitter, and its CEO, John Lansing, stated that he had lost faith in Twitter's decision-making.
The labeling issue has led other newsrooms to step away from Twitter, including PBS and CBC. CBC tweeted that "journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on @Twitter." The debate surrounding these labels underscores the challenge of accurately labeling media sources in an age of complex funding models, and the need for platforms like Twitter to develop more nuanced ways to communicate the funding sources behind news organizations.