Media Insider: Twitter Mislabels NPR and BBC, Blocks Substack Links, and is Absorbed by X Corp

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s roundup of media news stories from the week.

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NPR quits Twitter after being falsely labeled as ‘state-affiliated media’
NPR | David Folkenflik

NPR will no longer post fresh content to its 52 official Twitter feeds, becoming the first major news organization to go silent on the social media platform. The decision comes after Twitter labeled the network as “state-affiliated media” and then revised it to “government-funded media.” When asked about the surprise decision last week, Twitter owner Elon Musk admitted that he may have gotten it wrong — the “state-affiliated media” label is used for propaganda outlets in Russia, China, and other autocratic countries. NPR says the labels are inaccurate and misleading, given that the company is a private, nonprofit organization with editorial independence and receives less than 1% of its annual budget from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “At this point I have lost my faith in the decision-making at Twitter,” NPR CEO John Lansing says. “I would need some time to understand whether Twitter can be trusted again.”

Read more about how Twitter also applied the “government-funded media” label to the BBC’s main account and the company’s growing feud with the wider media industry.

Twitter Takes Aim at Posts That Link to Its Rival Substack
New York Times | Kate Conger and Ryan Mac

After newsletter publisher Substack announced the planned launch of Notes, a feature similar to Twitter, the social media company took quick action to prevent Substack writers from sharing tweets in their newsletters and then blocked Substack newsletters from circulating on the platform. The abrupt move added fuel to arguments that Elon Musk does not shy away from restricting competitors and content that he doesn’t like, despite his claims of championing free speech on Twitter. The move against Substack largely affected independent writers. “Writers deserve the freedom to share links to Substack or anywhere else,” Substack’s founders, Chris Best, Hamish McKenzie, and Jairaj Sethi, said in a statement. “This abrupt change is a reminder of why writers deserve a model that puts them in charge, that rewards great work with money and that protects the free press and free speech.”

At least for the time being, the backlash seems to have worked and Twitter stopped suppressing posts that link to Substack.

Twitter Is Dead: It’s All ‘X Corp’ Now
Gizmodo | Kyle Barr

New court filings detail that Twitter, Inc. has been officially absorbed into Elon Musk’s X Corp. Musk’s “X” brand has long been his attempt to create a so-called everything app — something possibly along the lines of China’s WeChat. He said his purchase of Twitter could accelerate the creation of X by “3 to 5 years, but I could be wrong.” In past texts and emails, Musk has described his goal for a “blockchain social media system that does both payments and short text messages/links like Twitter.” But it could take a while for “X” to take shape, as Musk recently told employees the company was valued at just $20 billion, less than half the $44 billion he bought it for last year.

Also from Gizmodo: Artifact, the new article app from Instagram’s founders, is taking a page from Reddit’s playbook with upvotes, downvotes, and graded credibility — as well as AI moderation.

U.S. Deems WSJ Reporter Evan Gershkovich ‘Wrongfully Detained’ by Russia
Wall Street Journal | Vivian Salama and William Mauldin

The State Department has designated Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich as “wrongfully detained.” The official designation launches a broad U.S. government effort to exert pressure on Russia to free him. Mr. Gershkovich was arrested last month and is being held on an accusation of espionage — which the WSJ and U.S. government vehemently deny. The case will now be handled by the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. “Journalism is not a crime,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said in a statement. Officials said the speed at which the designation was reached was unprecedented, though a statement from the National Press Club said the process still needs to be streamlined. “He is a distinguished journalist and his arrest is an attack on a free press and it should spur outrage in all free people and governments around the world,” said Emma Tucker, editor in chief of the Journal, and Almar Latour, publisher of The Wall Street Journal and chief executive officer of Dow Jones & Co. Inc.

Read next: Lawmakers want the Justice Department to investigate the Warner Bros Discovery merger, claiming that it harmed workers and reduced content choice.

Publishers test generative AI tools to boost SEO
Digiday | Sara Guaglione

Despite the threat of AI chatbots potentially siphoning search referral traffic away from news sites, some publishers are still hoping to use the technology to create SEO-driven content. Publishers like Ingenio, Team Whistle, BuzzFeed, and Gannett are experimenting with generative AI technology to complete tasks like optimizing headlines and keywords for search and finding new traffic-driving topics. They’ve used the tech to produce pages around popular search queries, generate metadata for videos on social, and find the best-performing topics on social media, for example. So far, it’s unclear how successful these tactics will be. However, Ingenio has claimed that traffic has “gone up” and Team Whistle has said some of the videos it’s used AI to generate metadata for have gone viral.

More AI news: The Guardian has discovered an issue with ChatGPT generating fake articles attributed to the outlet.

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Rocky Parker is the Manager of Audience and Journalist Engagement at Cision PR Newswire. She's been with the company since 2010 and has worked with journalists and bloggers as well as PR and comms professionals. Outside of work, she can be found trying a new recipe, binging a new show, or cuddling with her pitbull, Hudson.

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