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Elon Musk Is Trying To Bully NPR Back Onto Twitter With Petty, Legitimately Dangerous Threats

Elon Musk's face, making a weird mugging expression, superimposed over a shot of NPR's offices.

Welp, Elon Musk is back with another half-baked, ill-advised, and legitimately dangerous plan to bend the populace to his will—this time trying to manipulate NPR into coming back to Twitter after he chased them off last month.

NPR business and tech reporter Bobby Allyn reportedly received an email from Musk on Tuesday, threatening to “reassign” NPR’s Twitter account handle unless the news outlet agreed to return to posting on the account in question. “So is NPR going to start posting on Twitter again, or should we reassign @NPR to another company?” Musk wrote in the email that was then published by NPR.

By giving over such an established and internationally trusted news handle like NPR to any other person or company, Twitter takes the massively irresponsible risk of giving a private party the ability to easily impersonate a trustworthy news source and use that unearned credibility to say whatever they want to say to a gigantic, unsuspecting audience. It could also almost certainly damage own NPR’s credibility. 

Musk’s apparent irritation was presumably due to NPR’s decision to stop posting to its 52 Twitter accounts last month after the billionaire decided to label them as “state-affiliated media,” which is so not an accurate descriptor for a non-profit news organization like NPR. Keep in mind “state-affiliated media” is the same term used for “news” outlets like Russian, Chinese, and North Korean propaganda machines. 

In April, Musk changed the label to “government-funded media,” which is still inaccurate since most of NPR’s funding comes from private donors and fundraising. Like seriously, less than 1 percent of funding comes from government sources. NPR CEO John Lansing decided the damage was done, saying, “I would never have our content go anywhere that would risk our credibility.” 

When Allyn asked Musk for his reaction, Musk tweeted the email along with a note saying, “Defund @NPR.” This is especially hilariously stupid because Musk’s SpaceX receives 10,000 more federal funding dollars than NPR does. Like maybe he forgot?

“Our policy is to recycle handles that are definitively dormant. Same policy applies to all accounts. No special treatment for NPR,” Musk wrote in another email to Allyn. And while that’s true, their policy explicitly states that they define inactivity according to logins, not tweets. 

According to Allyn, Musk didn’t reply when asked if he plans to change the terms of the inactivity policy.

(featured image: Drew Angerer/Getty Images / Theo Wargo/WireImage / TMS)

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