National Public Radio claims Elon Musk is threatening to give away the news organization's Twitter handle because the non-profit decided to stop tweeting.
"So is NPR going to start posting on Twitter again, or should we reassign @NPR to another company?" Musk wrote in one email late Tuesday to NPR reporter Bobby Allyn.
NPR essentially quit Twitter last month after its main account was suddenly labeled as "state-affiliated media." The tag has also been used to identify several state-run media outlets in China and Russia.
NPR said the label was inaccurate and undermined the news organization's independence and credibility.
"NPR's organizational accounts will no longer be active on Twitter because the platform is taking actions that undermine our credibility by falsely implying that we are not editorially independent. We are not putting our journalism on platforms that have demonstrated an interest in undermining our credibility and the public's understanding of our editorial independence," NPR said in a statement. "We are turning away from Twitter but not from our audiences and communities."
The company also noted that less than 1% of its annual operating budget comes from federal funding.
The last tweet from NPR's main account was posted on April 12, offering readers and listeners a list of other outlets where they can find NPR's journalism.
In an article published Tuesday, NPR reporter Bobby Allyn detailed messages received from Musk that explained why he was considering reassigning the organization's Twitter account.
"Our policy is to recycle handles that are definitively dormant," Musk wrote in one email. "Same policy applies to all accounts. No special treatment for NPR."
However, Twitter's online policy says an account's activity — or inactivity — is based on log-ins rather than tweets. Twitter tells users they should log into the platform at least once a month to keep their account active.
While it's unknown if NPR has logged in to their main account in the past 30 days, the NPR Twitter handle still appears to belong to the organization. When asked by NPR who the account could potentially be reassigned to, Musk replied, "National Pumpkin Radio."
This is just the latest spat between Musk and media organizations on the platform.
In addition to removing verification labels on several prominent news outlets, Musk also temporarily suspended the the accounts of several journalists last year who had been critical of his takeover of the social media company. Among them were reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN.
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