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Twitter has removed its labels for the CBC in Canada, BBC in Britain, NPR in the United States and other media outlets in China, Iran and Russia, as global news organizations evaluate their presence on the social-media platform amid its mercurial moves.

Earlier this week, the CBC had been labelled as “69% Government-funded Media.” The Canadian public broadcaster said Twitter chief executive Elon Musk was treating journalistic independence “as a game.” Mirroring similar decisions made by NPR and PBS in the U.S., the CBC decided to pause activity on Twitter for the foreseeable future.

As of Friday, the CBC’s label on Twitter was taken off. “We are reviewing this latest development and will leave our Twitter accounts on pause before taking any next steps,” CBC spokesperson Leon Mar told The Globe and Mail.

State-affiliated media in China, Iran and Russia appeared to have also lost their labels as of Friday. This includes RT, which the Kremlin uses as a propaganda outlet; Press TV in Iran, which was created for the purpose of countering independent media reporting in the region; and China’s CCTV, which reports directly to the Chinese Communist Party’s “Central Propaganda Department.”

Twitter responded to The Globe’s e-mailed request for comment with a poop emoji on Friday. It is an auto-response that the company initiated for media inquiries last month.

Apart from media outlets and Twitter’s removal of its labels for them, a majority of Twitter’s high-profile users also lost their verification checkmarks on Thursday afternoon, as the platform began to remove them from celebrities, journalists, government bodies and others who would not pay for the company’s Twitter Blue subscription. This quickly began to cause havoc on the platform, with some users changing their account names to resemble politicians and other notable figures.

The verification mark, denoted with a blue check, had helped to identify and distinguish legitimate accounts from imposters. Industry estimates suggest fewer than 5 per cent of legacy verified accounts appear to have paid to join Twitter Blue as of this week.

But Mr. Musk said some accounts will keep their verification through Twitter Blue because he is “paying for a few personally,” saying as such in a tweet late on Thursday. “Such a great day in so many ways,” Mr. Musk said in another tweet.

In 2020, Twitter first began to attach labels to media outlets and government officials. This policy was designed predominantly with countries such as China and Russia in mind, where the state exercises control over editorial content through financial resources, direct or indirect political pressure, and control over production or distribution.

Democratic countries such as Canada and the U.S. were mostly spared. But under the ownership of Mr. Musk, who bought the company in October, 2022, the policy shifted.

A coalition of public broadcasters, which is chaired by CBC/Radio-Canada, and includes media organizations from around the world, issued a joint statement against Twitter’s labels, before they appeared to have been removed Friday.

“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 ABC (Australia), CBC/Radio-Canada, KBS (South Korea) or RNZ (New Zealand),” the Global Task Force for public media stated, mentioning the four member organizations that still had the “Government-funded” label as of Thursday.

As of Friday, Twitter has removed its policy webpage, where it provided reasons for labelling “Government-funded Media.” But the webpage with policies for “State-affiliated Media” was still up on Twitter’s “Help Center,” despite accounts previously with that label not showing up with it any more.

Industry observers say the changes are being made “on a whim” and are part of Mr. Musk’s long history with “trolling” on the internet. “He can do whatever he wants because it’s this billionaire’s new toy,” said Philip Mai, co-director of the Social Media Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson).

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