Twitter Puts ‘Government-Funded Media’ Tag on CBC Account

CBC News, in an article posted without a byline:

Twitter has put a “government-funded media” label on CBC’s account in what is the latest move by the social media company to stamp public broadcasters with designations.


“Twitter’s own policy defines government-funded media as cases where the government ‘may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content,’ which is clearly not the case with CBC/Radio-Canada,” [CBC spokesperson Leon] Mar said.

On YouTube, CBC videos carry a notice that “CBC/Radio-Canada is a Canadian public broadcast service” and there is a Wikipedia link to learn more. It seems fair to acknowledge the funding of different media organizations, but these recently created labels seem intended to sow discontent and mistrust rather than to inform. You can tell because the Twitter’s definition of the difference between “government-funded media” and “publicly funded media” is, at best, vague. At worst, it invites confusion between public broadcasters and state-controlled media. Trust in media is already at perilous lows, and it is harmful to imply similarities in editorial policy between media created for a public service, and media outlets which are a mouthpiece for the state.

For a fun exercise, flip the angle: call public media “democratic broadcasters”, private media are “advertiser-funded broadcasters”, and those owned by billionaires are, for example, “Rupert Murdoch’s soapbox”. Or is that too on the nose?

Like NPR and PBS, the CBC has suspended its use of Twitter.

Update: Mere days after enacting this policy, Twitter ended this classification system for all types of media. That is, the CBC no longer carries a “government-funded media” tag, and RT — the Russian broadcaster that is funded by its government and reflects in its editorial policy its overseers political goals — lacks its “state-affiliated media” designation. The “Government Media Labels” reference document published by Twitter now results in a 404 error page; I have updated its link above with one from the Internet Archive.