The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) announced on Monday it’s quitting Twitter after the public broadcaster was recently slapped with a “government-funded” label on the social media platform.
“Our journalism is impartial and independent. To suggest otherwise is untrue. That is why we are pausing our activities on @Twitter,” one of the CBC’s several verified accounts tweeted on Monday.
The CBC protested the move over the weekend, pointing out that Twitter’s own published rules define “government-funded” not simply as a financial arrangement with the government, but one in which there may be “varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content.” The CBC has editorial independence over its content, something that’s not true of some government-funded broadcasters in authoritarian countries.
In what will presumably be one of its last tweets, the CBC included links to other social media networks where it will continue to post, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
The CBC joins National Public Radio (NPR), which also objected to being labeled as “government-funded,” since the news outlet only derives about 2% of its funding from the federal government. NPR is primarily funded through corporate sponsorships and fees charged to local radio stations for its content. NPR, which was first labeled as “state-affiliated media” before Twitter CEO Elon Musk created the “government-funded” label, has also paused all activity on Twitter.
Twitter has become increasingly hostile to many mainstream news sources under the leadership of Musk, who purchased the social media platform in October 2022. When news outlets have protested on Twitter, explaining that public broadcasters in western countries typically have editorial independence, Musk has expressed skepticism.
The BBC was also slapped with a “government-funded” label recently, despite the fact that the news outlet is actually funded through a fee on the sale of TV sets, called the “license fee.” The BBC even collects the fee directly, meaning the government isn’t actually involved.
It’s unclear how major news outlets abandoning Twitter will impact the company’s bottom line. Most media analysts agree that Twitter needs news outlets way more than the outlets need Twitter. For starters, Twitter doesn’t drive much web traffic, even though it’s a place where many journalists spend their day to get caught up on the latest news from around the world.
Twitter responded to questions on Monday afternoon with a poop emoji—an automated email response set up by Musk to respond to all reporters. I’ll update this article if I ever get a real response.