Science & Tech

Elon Musk called out for 'troubling' label added to the BBC's account

Elon Musk called out for 'troubling' label added to the BBC's account
Elon Musk apologizes after mocking laid-off, disabled Twitter employee

If Elon Musk deciding to temporarily turn Twitter’s logo into the doge meme, set up a poop emoji auto-reply for the company’s press email, and hide the ‘w’ on the sign outside its San Francisco headquarters didn’t tell you the CEO is absolutely clueless, then one of his latest decisions as boss of the platform certainly does.

While Musk continues to ponder exactly what to do with ‘legacy’ verified accounts and paid subscribers to Twitter Blue, he’s been undermining international news organisations like a true “free speech absolutist”.

He’s already removed a verified tick from The New York Times (meaning there’s nothing to suggest @nytimes is the legitimate handle for the outlet, when it very much is), and decided to slap a label on NPR’s account claiming it’s “government funded media” (when it very much isn’t).

Now, in yet another demonstration of Musk’s understanding of how specific journalistic organisations are funded, the Tesla founder has decided to apply the same “government funded media” label to the BBC.

Yes, really.

“State-affiliated media is defined as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressures, and/or control over production and distribution,” reads Twitter’s description for state-affiliated media.

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While some might consider the recent furore over Gary Lineker and Match of the Day to be a pretty good example of exercising “control over editorial content through … direct or indirect political pressures”, political impartiality is kind of the BBC’s thing (it’s pretty much what got Lineker in trouble in the first place).

Also, the label Twitter has decided to place on the BBC account is a bit more specific in claiming it is funded by the government, which is incorrect.

As the BBC’s webpage on the licence fee and funding makes clear, “the BBC is primarily funded by the licence fee [paid by UK taxpayers], supplemented by income from our commercial subsidiaries [like BBC Studios]”.

The UK Government did provide £20 million to the BBC World Service in March, but as pointed out by Deadline journalist Jake Kanter, that’s not the Twitter account which has been labelled “government funded” here.

The move by Twitter has been criticised as “troubling” and “triggering” by users of the platform:

Although, others have sought to defend and justify the decision:

In a statement issued to indy100, a BBC spokesperson said: "We are speaking to Twitter to resolve this issue as soon as possible. The BBC is, and always has been, independent.

"We are funded by the British public through the licence fee."

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