Elon Musk Threatens To Reassign NPR’s Twitter Handle After It Quit PlatformImage via Maja Hitij/Getty Images Tech News Elon Musk
Elon Musk just can’t seem to leave National Public Radio alone. After the actions of Twitter’s perturbed boy CEO pushed the news outlet to stop posting on the social media platform last month, emails sent to an NPR reporter Tuesday showed Musk threatening more chaos.
NPR tech reporter Bobby Allyn revealed that Musk threatened to remove NPR’s control of its Twitter handle, @NPR, and re-assign it to “another company” unless it starts tweeting again. “So is NPR going to start posting on Twitter again, or should we reassign @NPR to another company,” read an, as Allyn described it, an unprompted email from Musk.
NPR hasn’t posted anything on its Twitter account since effectively quitting the platform on April 12. That decision came shortly after Musk labeled NPR, PBS and the Canadian Broadcasting Company as “state-affiliated media” for a brief period of time. The designation isn’t foreign to Twitter as it was previously placed on news outlets in Russia and China that were heavily if not fully funded by government organizations and were known for deliberately spreading disinformation.
Musk brought up this episode in the email exchange in trademark trolly fashion, asking Allyn “NPR isn’t tagged as government-funded anymore, so what’s the beef?”
The exchange follows Musk’s pattern of targeting mainstream media outlets and their reporters, especially those that criticize his actions and those of the companies he operates. As NPR states, Musk has suspended the Twitter accounts of journalists after publishing stories with said critiques, played hot potato with their Twitter verification pre- and post-deactivation of legacy checkmarks on April 20 (4/20, lul, ugh) and auto-replying to emails to Twitter’s comms team with a poop emoji.
Allyn’s article also fell victim to this bit of trolling as Twitter users (myself included) found that the link to the piece on NPR’s website included in Allyn’s tweet about the story was seemingly blocked from loading for a time shortly after the tweet was posted. In response, Allyn released the entire article in a series of screenshots on his Twitter account.
According to Allyn, Musk sent another email on Wednesday with the subject line “You suck.” There was no other text in the message.
Musk stated that the removal of NPR’s control of its Twitter account falls in line with Twitter’s policy “to recycle handles that are definitively dormant” and that NPR would get “no special treatment.” It is true that Twitter’s terms of service outline procedures for the reassignment of dormant accounts, but it ties account inactivity to logging into your account rather than how often it posts.
Users must log into their account at least every 30 days to stave off deletion due to inactivity. Of course, Musk could rewrite those terms as he has been wont to do since taking over Twitter last October. His most controversial rewrite of the company’s terms of service saw Twitter remove content moderation guidelines around the definitions of hate speech and discrimination toward transgender people that opened the floodgates for transphobia to proliferate on the platform.