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April 13, 2023, 11:57 a.m.
Audience & Social

NPR may be “going silent” on Twitter, but it’s keeping its 17.6 million followers on ice

“Going silent,” “turning away,” but not leaving-leaving (yet).

Fed up at being slapped with a 100% false “state-affiliated media” label and then a still almost completely wrong “government-funded media” label (all because Elon Musk read a Wikipedia page!), NPR said this week that it is “turning away from Twitter.”

This doesn’t exactly mean that NPR’s 50 official Twitter accounts — @NPR, @allsongs, @altlatino, @jazznight, @LouderThanARiot, @microface, @morningedition, @nprhelp, @npr_ed, @npralltech, @npraskmeanother, @npratc, @nprbooks, @nprbusiness, @nprchives, @nprclassical, @nprcodeswitch, @nprdesign, @nprembedded, @nprextra, @nprfood, @nprgoatsandsoda, @nprhealth, @nprinterns, @nprinvisibilia, @NPRItsBeenAMin, @nprjobs, @nprlifekit, @nprmusic, @nprone, @nproye, @nprpolitics, @nprscience, @nprshortwave, @nprstations, @nprtechteam, @nprtraining, @nprviz, @nprweekend, @nprwest, @nprworld, @pchh, @planetmoney, @podcastsNPR, @roughly, @sourceoftheweek, @tedradiohour, @throughlinenpr, @UpFirst, @waitwait — are leaving-leaving Twitter, and the company has been careful not to use those words. The accounts — by my count have a combined 17,665,607 followers; NPR’s flagship account alone has 8.8 million — haven’t been deleted. We can keep arguing about whether Twitter actually drives traffic1, but a multi-million-person following is definitely doing something positive for your brand, and it’s taken years to build. NPR CEO John Lansing was careful not to rule out a return:

In a BBC interview posted online Wednesday, Musk suggested he may further change the label to “publicly funded.” His words did not sway NPR’s decision makers. Even if Twitter were to drop the designation altogether, Lansing says the network will not immediately return to the platform.

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

In the meantime, NPR’s accounts have a “two-week grace period” to “revise their social media strategies.” On Thursday, some of the accounts tweeted infographics about non-Twitter places to find them. Others just aren’t tweeting.

Some of NPR’s Twitter accounts already hadn’t tweeted in weeks (@AltLatino) or months (@PodcastsNPR, @nprhelp) or years (@MicroFace, @nprchives).

While there’s been plenty of public cheering for NPR’s move, it’s unclear how many other media organizations will follow suit, especially without a fairly direct push. PBS, for instance, hasn’t tweeted since April 8, but its sub-accounts, like @NewsHour, remain active.

  1. For Nieman Lab, it definitely does↩︎
Laura Hazard Owen is the editor of Nieman Lab. You can reach her via email (laura_owen@harvard.edu) or Twitter DM (@laurahazardowen).
POSTED     April 13, 2023, 11:57 a.m.
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