Just In: Elon Musk Threatened to hand NPR’s Twitter Handle to ‘another company’

This statement is referring to a conflict between Elon Musk and NPR, a non-profit news organization. After Musk acquired Twitter for $44 billion last year, there has been an ongoing dispute between him and various media groups.

Recently, NPR’s main Twitter account was labeled as “state-affiliated media” by Twitter, a term typically used to describe news outlets that are heavily influenced or controlled by authoritarian governments. As a result, NPR stopped tweeting from its main account.

Elon Musk threatened to reassign NPR’s Twitter account to “another company” in an email to NPR reporter Bobby Allyn. This email was sent on Tuesday, the timing of which is not specified in the statement.

Musk’s email suggests that he is either considering removing NPR’s Twitter account from Twitter altogether or transferring it to another company’s ownership.

The statement does not provide further details on why Musk is threatening to reassign NPR’s Twitter account, but it is likely related to the dispute over Twitter’s labeling of NPR’s main account as “state-affiliated media.”

In response to Twitter’s labeling of its main account as “state-affiliated media” and later “government-funded media,” NPR issued a statement asserting that both labels were inaccurate and damaged the credibility of the nonprofit news organization.

NPR stated that it operates independently of the US government, and that federal funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting only accounts for less than 1% of its annual operating budget.

NPR’s last tweets on its main account were posted on April 12, in which the news organization shared information about where readers and listeners could find its journalism. This suggests that NPR may have stopped using its Twitter account as a result of the dispute with Twitter over the labeling.

The statement also mentions that Twitter temporarily labeled other news organizations, such as the BBC and PBS, as “government-funded media.” As a response, PBS also stopped using its Twitter account.

According to an article written by NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn on Tuesday, Elon Musk sent messages regarding NPR’s Twitter account. Musk pointed out that NPR had stopped tweeting, which could be considered “definitive dormancy” and a reason to reassign the account.

In one email, Musk wrote, “Our policy is to recycle handles that are definitively dormant. Same policy applies to all accounts. No special treatment for NPR.” Musk’s statement suggests that the reassignment of NPR’s Twitter account could be a result of Twitter’s policy to recycle dormant accounts.

Twitter’s policy states that an account’s inactivity is determined by logging in, not by tweeting. Twitter requires users to log in at least every 30 days to keep their accounts active, and accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity.

It is unclear from the statement whether Musk’s threats to reassign NPR’s Twitter account are related to Twitter’s policy on inactive accounts or if they are related to the dispute between Musk and NPR over Twitter’s labeling of NPR’s main account as “state-affiliated media” and later “government-funded media.”

Despite Elon Musk’s threats to reassign NPR’s Twitter account, it remains uncertain if he will actually follow through, given his inconsistent actions and statements. Twitter has a published policy regarding account activity, but Musk’s actions suggest that he may not always follow it.

NPR reported that when asked about who would be willing to use NPR’s Twitter account, Musk replied with a sarcastic remark, saying “National Pumpkin Radio” along with a fire and laughing emoji. It’s unclear whether this was a serious response or not.

It’s also uncertain whether NPR has logged into its Twitter account, which currently has a blue check mark without the previous “government-funded media” label, since April. The Associated Press reached out to NPR for comment on this matter, but it’s unclear whether they have responded.

Since acquiring Twitter in October, Musk has disbanded Twitter’s media and public relations department. This move, along with the ongoing conflict with NPR and other media groups, has contributed to a “chilling and uncertain landscape for journalism on Twitter,” according to experts.

Elon Musk has been accused of using his power over Twitter to intimidate and retaliate against individuals and organizations that displease him.

His actions have included removing news organizations’ verifications and temporarily adding labels such as “government-funded media” on some accounts. Additionally, Musk abruptly suspended the accounts of individual journalists who wrote about Twitter late last year.

When Musk threatened to reassign NPR’s Twitter account, Liz Woolery, digital policy lead at literary organization PEN America, spoke out against his behavior. She called it a “potent example” of Musk’s willingness to use Twitter to intimidate and retaliate against anyone who irks him, with or without provocation.

She added that this tactic is authoritarian and is aimed at undermining one of the country’s premier and most trusted news organizations, especially one that is crucial to rural communities across the US.

The ongoing conflict between Musk and media groups, including NPR, has raised concerns about the state of journalism on Twitter since Musk acquired the company in October. Critics argue that Musk’s actions and statements have created a chilling and uncertain landscape for journalism on the platform.

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