Elon Musk, the well-known CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, recently communicated about the NPR (National Public Radio) Twitter account, making news once more. According to reports, Musk questioned NPR’s Twitter activity in an email to a reporter, warning that the account might be transferred if there is no more interaction. Due to its classification as “state-affiliated media,” which includes organisations like China’s Xinhua News Agency and Russia’s RT, NPR had departed Twitter in April.
Before NPR decided to abandon the platform altogether, Twitter had changed the label to “government-funded media” following criticism. However, NPR deemed this updated label to be “inaccurate and misleading,” as the organization is a privately owned nonprofit with editorial independence. This designation also led PBS to exit Twitter. Eventually, Twitter removed the “government-funded media” label, including from state-run outlets. Nevertheless, neither NPR nor PBS have returned to the platform.
In a surprising turn of events, Musk’s email conversation with an NPR executive revealed his queries about the organization’s absence from Twitter. Musk seemed to be unaware of the change in NPR’s label and asked, “NPR isn’t tagged as government-funded anymore, so what’s the beef?” In response to the question of who would take over the NPR account, Musk humorously suggested “National Pumpkin Radio,” accompanied by a couple of emojis. Unfortunately, attempts to reach Twitter for a comment were unsuccessful, as the company currently lacks a dedicated communications team.
Twitter’s policy dictates that users must log in at least once every 30 days to maintain an active account. While inactive accounts may be permanently removed, Twitter currently does not release dormant usernames. However, Musk informed NPR that Twitter supposedly recycles handles belonging to definitively dormant accounts, treating NPR no differently. It remains uncertain if Twitter will update its official policy or introduce additional safeguards against impersonation to address this matter.
Elon Musk’s threat to reassign the NPR Twitter handle showcases his influential position and willingness to take unconventional actions. The outcome of this situation remains unclear, as NPR must decide whether to resume tweeting or face the possibility of losing its Twitter handle to another entity.