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Government and State-Funded Outlets Angered by Twitter Labels

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The press holds a critical position in both informing the public and overseeing those with power. In order to accomplish this role with integrity, the press must commit to impartial reporting, which entails the fair and rational presentation of facts without leaning toward any specific ideology, political party, or individual.

Impartiality is a crucial aspect of journalism, stemming from the press's duty to furnish the public with accurate and trustworthy information free from manipulation or distortion. Journalists must present facts instead of subjective opinions or propaganda because the public depends on the press to make well-informed decisions.

Additionally, transparency is an essential component of impartiality. The press should be candid about potential biases or inclinations and provide clear information regarding funding sources, ownership, and editorial policies. By fostering transparency, the press upholds the public's trust and guarantees its own accountability to its readers.

It also enables readers to make their own judgments about the news they consume. When readers are aware of the potential biases of a news source, they can interpret the information provided in that context and make their own decisions about its accuracy and reliability.

In today's world, where abundant information is available, it is more important than ever for the press to be impartial and transparent. The public's trust in the media is essential for the functioning of a healthy democracy, and it is the responsibility of the press to maintain that trust by providing accurate, unbiased, and transparent reporting.

And this is what Twitter CEO Elon Musk aims to achieve with his latest move by tagging certain media publications as “government-funded media” on the popular social media platform.

News Organizations Criticize Twitter's New Labeling

This week, NPR announced that it will no longer post fresh content on its official Twitter feeds due to Twitter labeling NPR as “state-affiliated media.” 

NPR claims that it is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence and that the designation is inaccurate and misleading. Twitter later revised the label to “government-funded media,” but NPR still decided to quit the platform. 

However, NPR's decision-makers were not swayed by Musk's words, and even if Twitter were to drop the designation altogether, the network said it would not immediately return to the platform. 

NPR's chief executive John Lansing said that the network is protecting its credibility and ability to produce journalism without negativity. He also noted that Musk's hastily announced policy changes had undermined the culture of Twitter. 

“At this point, I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter. I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again,” said Lansing. 

NPR is allowing a two-week grace period for staff to revise their social media strategies, and individual journalists and staffers can decide whether to continue using Twitter. Lansing emphasizes that NPR's independence is the critical point, not whether or not it's government-funded. 

Musk Tweet on NPR

Twitter's labeling of news organizations as “government-funded media” has drawn criticism from journalism and freedom-of-speech groups. Groups such as PEN, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) have condemned the move. 

The CPJ's Carlos Martínez de la Serna pointed out that while NPR receives public funding, it is not state-controlled, and Twitter's label could put journalists in danger in areas where government affiliation has negative connotations.

NPR's move comes after Twitter labeled the BBC's official account as ‘state-funded media,' which the British Broadcast Corporation requested Twitter to correct. Musk suggested in a BBC interview posted online on Wednesday that the label should be changed to ‘publicly funded media.' 

In addition to NPR and the BBC, Twitter also labeled the US broadcaster Voice of America as government-funded media, to which VOA spokesperson Bridget Serchak said that the label could be misleading and cause concern about the accuracy and objectivity of their news coverage. VOA plans to continue raising this issue with Twitter.

Twitter's Explanation on Media Account Labels 

Amidst this, the Opposition Conservatives in Canada have asked Twitter to apply a “government-funded” label on accounts associated with the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). 

Pierre Poilievre, the leader of the Conservative Party, shared a letter on Twitter that he sent to a company, requesting a label to be applied to CBC's English “news-related” accounts. However, the letter did not mention Radio-Canada, the broadcaster's French-language arm.

Poilievre believes this applies to CBC, but the broadcaster has said in a statement that this is “clearly not the case” and that its editorial independence is protected in law in the Broadcasting Act. 

The office of Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez has also said that CBC is an independent, arms-length Crown corporation, and Poilievre's comments are an “attack on journalists.” 

Meanwhile, Twitter provided directions on how it labels state-affiliated media publication accounts. The labels provide additional context about accounts controlled by official representatives of governments, state-affiliated media entities, and individuals associated with those entities. 

According to the “government and state-affiliated media account labels on Twitter” explanation, the platform defines state-affiliated media as outlets where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources and direct or indirect political pressures and has control over its production and distribution. Twitter also adds labels to Tweets that share links to state-affiliated media websites and may even label those prominent staff that belongs to these entities.

Twitter defines government-funded media as outlets where the government provides some or all of the outlet's funding and may have varying degrees of government involvement over editorial content. It said that Twitter might use external sources to determine when this label is applied. Meanwhile, those media organizations that receive funding from individual contributions, commercial financing, and public financing are regarded as publicly-funded media by the platform.

Media's Biased Coverage of Digital Assets & Musk's Solution

Despite the media's criticism of Musk's decision, they have failed to properly cover the digital asset market, despite its existence for over a decade. This has led to a lack of understanding and misinformation about cryptocurrencies and related technologies among the general public.

This can be seen in the New York Times article from the past weekend titled “The Real-World Costs of the Digital Race for Bitcoin.” It was meant to be an exposé on the energy cost of Bitcoin mining, but it seems to focus only on the failures of a specific load-balancing incentive program in Texas. The article's findings seem to be stretched to fit a conclusion, and the piece is almost incoherent.

The article displays a tendency to engage in nonsensical and surrealistic non-sequiturs that associate Bitcoin (BTC) mining with unrelated negative events.

Furthermore, the article's assertion that “the public pays the price” for Bitcoin mining primarily relies on a single-state program. The article's criticisms of Bitcoin mining are misguided because miners are performing optimally by turning off during peak load periods, which is precisely what the Texas incentives aim to encourage. Additionally, the Texas power grid operates independently of the US electricity grid. 

Leading Bitcoin researchers have also criticized the article as being biased and filled with misinformation. According to Daniel Batten, one of the leading Bitcoin environmentalists and researchers, the article lacks journalistic integrity, as the NY Times cherry-picked data to fit their “Bitcoin is bad” narrative. Batten collected actual data over an 8-month period and found that the NY Times' table of top BTC miners is grossly inaccurate. 

They overstate the emission levels of certain mining companies by an average of 81.7%. Furthermore, the NY Times neglected to mention that 26 mining companies in the US and Canada currently use more than 90% sustainable energy, of which only two were included in their data.

According to Batten's recently published research, the main energy source of BTC mining is hydropower, which accounts for 23% of the total energy. Fossil fuels have decreased by a total of 6.2% per year since January 2020, making Bitcoin a sustainable industry.

Batten accuses the publication of not being objective in their reporting, as they did not mention the positive impact of the “demand response program,” in which Bitcoin miners play an essential role in grid stability. 

An executive at mining company Riot Platforms echoed Batten's criticism, calling on the NY Times to disclose their methodology and simulation to reveal how their data was calculated. Despite these criticisms, the NY Times article remains online with no explanation, raising further concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the data presented in the article.

Against the backdrop, it is not necessarily reasonable to assume that media outlets that receive government funding will adopt the current government's negative and false perspective on digital assets. 

Being influenced by the government's position on these issues is a concern that should be addressed. It is important for news outlets to strive for fair and accurate reporting on all topics, including digital assets, and to avoid spreading misinformation or promoting a particular agenda.

Musk's recent action to label state-affiliated and government-funded media can potentially address these concerns by providing readers with more information and enabling them to make informed decisions.

Gaurav started trading cryptocurrencies in 2017 and has fallen in love with the crypto space ever since. His interest in everything crypto turned him into a writer specializing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Soon he found himself working with crypto companies and media outlets. He is also a big-time Batman fan.