Twitter owner Elon Musk has reportedly emailed an NPR reporter to ask if the organization is returning to the website and to suggest that the company could reassign its account if it doesn’t. According to NPR, Musk sent one of its reporters an unprompted email that reads: “So is NPR going to start posting on Twitter again, or should we reassign @NPR to another company?” If you’ll recall, the organization quit Twitter in April after being labeled as a “state-affiliated media,” along with state-run outlets, such as China’s Xinhua News Agency and Russia’s RT.
Before NPR decided to ditch Twitter altogether, the social network changed the label to “government-funded media” after being called out. However, NPR said the updated label is still “inaccurate and misleading,” as it’s “a private, nonprofit company with editorial independence.” The label also prompted PBS to leave the website. Twitter ultimately decided to remove the “government-funded media” label entirely, even from state-run outlets, but neither NPR nor PBS has returned to the website.
Musk’s surprise email turned into an exchange with the executive, wherein he reportedly wrote in one of his responses: “NPR isn’t tagged as government-funded anymore, so what’s the beef?” And when asked who would be taking over the NPR account on Twitter, he replied: “National Pumpkin Radio,” along with a couple of emoji. We reached out Twitter for a statement, but the company doesn’t have a communications team anymore.
Under Twitter’s policy, the company said that users can simply log in once every 30 days to keep their account active. Further, it said that accounts may be permanently removed due to inactivity, but it “cannot release inactive usernames at this time.” It encourages people to find a variation if the username they want is “used by an account that seems inactive.” However, NPR said that in their email exchange, Musk told the organization that Twitter’s “policy is to recycle handles that are definitively dormant.” He apparently added: “Same policy applies to all accounts. No special treatment for NPR.” It’s unclear if Twitter intends to update its official policy page for inactive accounts with that information, and if it will implement safeguards to protect former users from impersonation.