Twitter owner Elon Musk sent an email letter to NPR, asking if the news organization would return to the social network and threatening to take down the account if it didn’t.
The email read: “So is NPR going to start posting on Twitter again, or should we reassign @NPR to another company?” NPR, the largest nonprofit radio network in the US, founded in 1970, left Twitter in April after its account was labelled “US state-afffiliated media,” compared to such propaganda media as the Chinese News Agency Xinhua and the Russian TV channel RT. NPR called the label “inaccurate and misleading.”
Although Twitter later changed the signature on NPR’s account to “government-funded media,” the news organization continued to emphasize that it is a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence. This led to American public broadcaster and television network PBS also leaving Twitter. In the end, Elon Musk gave in and the social network completely removed the hashtags, even from state media, but neither NPR nor PBS returned to the site.
Musk’s surprise email turned into a correspondence with NPR management, where he reportedly wrote in one response, “NPR isn’t tagged government-funded anymore, so what’s the beef?” And when asked in response who would take over NPR’s Twitter account if the news organization refused to do so, he replied, “National Pumpkin Radio,” along with a couple of emoji.
According to Twitter’s policy, users can keep their accounts active by logging in once every 30 days. Accounts can indeed be permanently deleted due to inactivity, but Twitter cannot delete inactive usernames.
NPR reported that Musk informed them that Twitter’s policy is to transfer accounts that are “finally inactive” and that the policy applies to all accounts, with no special treatment for NPR. It is not yet known whether Twitter will update its official inactive account policy page with this information and implement safeguards to protect former users from being impersonated by attackers.