CBC ‘pausing’ its use of Twitter after ‘government-funded media’ label applied

CBC/Radio-Canada says it is “pausing” access to Twitter, a day after its main account was flagged by the social media platform as “government-sponsored media.”

“Twitter can be a powerful tool for our journalists to engage with Canadians, but it undermines the accuracy and professionalism of the work they do and allows our independence to be so mischaracterized,” CBC Media Relations Director Leon Mar said in a statement. said in a statement. The changes were announced Monday afternoon.

“As a result, we are suspending activity on our corporate Twitter account and all CBC and Radio-Canada news-related accounts.”

In an email to The Canadian Press, Mar added that Twitter did not consult the public broadcaster before applying the label on Sunday, so CBC has written to Twitter asking the company to re-examine the name.

Twitter’s website defines “government-funded media” as “media that is partially or fully funded by a government and that may have varying degrees of government involvement in editing the content.” Twitter’s policy links to a Wikipedia page that lists “publicly funded broadcasters,” which it says it may use to determine when the label should be applied.

Marr argued Sunday that the CBC does not meet those standards because it is publicly funded through a parliamentary appropriation voted on by all MPs and its editorial independence is protected by the Broadcasting Act law.

CBC’s Board of Directors decides how the funds received are used. In 2021-22, the CBC received more than $1.2 billion in government funding, down from about $1.4 billion the previous year. That compares with $650 million in other revenue in 2021-22 and $500 million the year before.

Twitter responded to multiple requests for comment asking why the label was applied and whether the auto-generated email with the poop emoji would be removed or changed.

Last week, National Public Radio (NPR) announced it was quitting Twitter after the social media company labeled it “state-affiliated media,” a term typically associated with media controlled by authoritarian regimes.

Twitter later changed the label to “government-sponsored media” and began distributing it to other publishers, including the BBC, which had previously been named an exception to the “state-affiliated media” label. The BBC’s label was later changed to “Publicly Funded Media”.

Before the CBC announced plans to suspend its use of Twitter, Vass Bednar said the public broadcaster should leave the platform because it was given a label that wrongly positions CBC as an extension of an intellectually independent government.

“This seems like an opportunity right now for the public to renew their understanding of how they get funded and how they maintain editorial independence,” said Bednar, executive director of McMaster University’s master’s in public policy for the digital society.

Friends of Canadian Broadcasting said Monday that it wrote to Twitter to request the removal of the CBC’s new name because it was “incorrect and misleading.”

While Dwayne Winseck is still figuring out what the CBC should do, the Carleton University School of Journalism and Communications professor said he thinks the CBC should at least work with NPR and other public service media outlets to develop a common strategy to deal with the social media giants.

“Maybe trying to take more joint action would be a good way to go, and if all the public service broadcasters pulled their services[from Twitter]I think that’s an interesting point, it would give them more leverage power,” he said.

Winsek said Twitter’s flagging of the CBC account was “very problematic” because it failed to capture some of the nuances of the CBC’s funding and its editorial independence.

He sees the move as an attempt to “delegitimize” the CBC and public service media, emphasizing why platforms like Twitter don’t have “the unbridled power to unilaterally impose such labels and affect the condition and dissemination of news media.” “

The changes come as Elon Musk, the billionaire behind Tesla and SpaceX, continues to lead the company he bought for $44 billion last October.

He has since promised several changes to the platform, including removing the verified blue checkmark for users who don’t pay for his subscription service, and most recently, temporarily changing its blue bird logo to a Shiba Inu, an update to the Dogecoin crypto A reference to the currency he invested in.

“I think every incremental, weird, random change that Elon Musk makes to Twitter seems to be a fundamental test of user engagement,” Bednar said.

“Are people really going to quit the platform? Do they have other options, or are they willing to extinguish or silence their digital voice?”

—Tara Deschamps, Canadian Press

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