Twitter labels CBC account as ‘government-funded media’

Twitter has labelled the CBC’s Twitter account as “government-funded media.”

The new label appeared Sunday night, just days after Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre asked the company to add it to the national broadcaster’s account.

In a statement to the Star, CBC said “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.”

The statement went on to say that “CBC/Radio-Canada is publicly funded through a parliamentary appropriation that is voted upon by all Members of Parliament. Its editorial independence is protected in law in the Broadcasting Act.”

The CBC’s board of directors determines how the funding it receives is spent. In 2021-22, the CBC received more than $1.2 billion in government funding, a decrease from about $1.4 billion in 2020-21.

After the label was added to the CBC account Sunday night, Poilievre tweeted that the decision “exposed” the public broadcaster and that “people know that it is Trudeau propaganda, not news.”

Poilievre posted his initial letter on Twitter April 11, asking the social media company to add the label to the public broadcaster’s news accounts, specifically naming the @CBC, @CBCNews and @CBCAlerts accounts.

“We must protect Canadians against disinformation and manipulation by state media,” Poilievre wrote on the tweet that featured the letter.

As of Sunday evening, the government-funded label only appeared on the @CBC account and not on the @CBCNews or @CBCAlerts accounts. It also seems the label has not spread to the CBC Twitter accounts that cover local media markets.

Jeffrey Dvorkin, a senior fellow at Massey College and a former managing editor at CBC Radio and vice-president of news and information at NPR, said it’s hypocritical of Twitter owner Elon Musk to add the label to the CBC’s account when his own companies access government funding.

“Public broadcasting is under increasing criticism and attack these days because the very idea that there may be some connection to government funding is seen by some people, especially on the conservative side of things, as a bad thing,” Dvorkin said.

“Tesla has taken billions of dollars from the federal government and research money. This is the height of hypocrisy, as far as I’m concerned.”

Canadian Press reports that Twitter responded with a poop emoji when asked by email for an explanation for the added tag.

U.S. outlet National Public Radio (NPR) recently left Twitter after its account had the label “state-affiliated media” added. The company said it tried to convince Twitter to remove the label, which prior to Elon Musk’s time as owner of the company, only appeared on state-controlled media accounts such as Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik.

After the backlash, the label on NPR’s account was changed to “government-funded media.” Despite the change, NPR has not tweeted since April 12, when it posted a thread about other ways users could access the company’s content.

NPR’s decision to leave Twitter marked the first exit from the platform by a major news organization. It’s unclear if the CBC will follow suit.

Other public broadcasters that have seen the government-funded label added to their accounts include Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States and the British Broadcasting Service (BBC). Like NPR, following the addition of the label, PBS stopped posting content on their Twitter account.

PBS’ current Twitter bio reads: “PBS’s editorial independence is central to our work and will never change. We produce trustworthy content that features unbiased reporting.”

Unlike NPR and PBS, the label attached to BBC’s Twitter account reads “publicly-funded media”.

With files from The Canadian Press
Edward Djan is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @EdwardDjan1


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