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  • CBC disputes Twitter’s labeling of their account as “69% government-funded media”

  • Twitter’s labeling system raises questions about the credibility of independent news organizations

  • CBC pauses its use of Twitter following the labeling controversy, joining other media organizations like NPR in quitting the platform

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), a public broadcaster in Canada, found itself embroiled in a Twitter labeling controversy recently. On April 18, 2023, Twitter labeled CBC’s Twitter account as “69% government-funded media“, citing the fact that a significant portion of the corporation’s funding comes from the Canadian government.

CBC, however, was quick to push back against this labeling, emphasizing that it has complete editorial independence and that 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 not the case with CBC/Radio-Canada. In fact, CBC maintained that it is “less than 70% government-funded“, which is below the threshold for being classified as government-funded media.

CBC sent a letter to Twitter, asking the social media giant to reconsider the labeling of its account. However, despite CBC’s efforts, Twitter did not change its stance immediately. Instead, the label was later changed to “69 percent government-funded, much to the disappointment of CBC.

As a result of this labeling controversy, CBC decided to pause its use of Twitter on April 18, 2023. CBC/Radio-Canada suspended activities on its corporate and news Twitter accounts, citing the fact that Twitter’s labeling undermined the accuracy and credibility of its journalism. CBC’s decision to pause its use of Twitter was not unprecedented, as National Public Radio (NPR) in the United States also quit Twitter after being labeled “government-funded media”.

This labeling controversy raises important questions about the role of social media in shaping public perception of media organizations. While Twitter’s labeling system aims to provide users with more information about the sources of information they encounter on the platform, it also has the potential to undermine the credibility of independent news organizations like CBC. This incident highlights the need for social media platforms to ensure that their labeling systems are accurate and fair, and do not create unintended consequences for organizations that are committed to producing high-quality journalism.

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