By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Twitter logjam may be starting to break as NPR says: See ya, Elon

Elon Musk. Photo (cc) 2019 by Daniel Oberhaus.

Despite Elon Musk’s best efforts, Twitter is still alive, more or less. From sending poop emojis in response to media requests to putting his dog in charge of the company (what company?), Musk has demonstrated massive contempt for his customers. He’s also allowed the site to be flooded with trolls and hate speech — not that those weren’t a problem even before he bought the company.

But now there’s a chance that the logjam will finally break. After Musk labeled NPR’s Twitter feed as “state-controlled media” and then, upon reflection, changed it to “government-funded media” (it is neither, though NPR does get a tiny percentage of its revenues from government sources), NPR’s leadership finally decided it had had enough. NPR media reporter David Folkenflik writes:

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. In explaining its decision, NPR cited Twitter’s decision to first label the network “state-affiliated media,” the same term it uses for propaganda outlets in Russia, China and other autocratic countries.

Unfortunately, NPR is going to allow its journalists to make their own decision. That’s a mistake. What’s needed is to push news organizations to leave Twitter behind in order to encourage the use of alternatives, the most prominent of which (so far) is Mastodon.

From November through February, I went cold turkey, taking to Twitter only to let my followers know where else they could find me. Twitter’s weird resilience, though, led me to come back on a limited basis. I continue to do most of my social media posting on Mastodon, and I hope you’ll follow me there.

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1 Comment

  1. Ben in Seattle

    Thanks for the insight. Unfortunately, NPR failing to make a Mastodon account to point people to means they are just leaving a vacuum. There will be demand for them to have real-time updates and they could get sucked back in.

    Another problem is that Google’s search seems to prioritize accounts on Twitter. In fact, Google’s News aggregator actually often includes Twitter links and quotes. I have never seen them do the same for Mastodon accounts, or any other micro-blogging service.

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