Twitter presence

Given changes at Twitter over the last seven months and the degree to which its ownership seems intent on damaging public trust in journalism while allowing other kinds of preventable harm to happen, as a news organization we’re trying to minimize our use of the Twitter platform.

So far that’s included:

  • Removing links to our Twitter account from our website in the list of social media spaces where we encourage people to follow us
  • Turning off Twitter as a channel where we can provide subscriber support and answer questions from readers
  • Ending any plans or programs involving marketing and advertising spends on Twitter
  • Wrapping up our use of Twitter for any kind of regular research on events, news or community conversations that we should be tracking as a news organization
  • Ending any practices around linking to or embedding tweets in our news articles, not something we did very often anyway.

We continue to auto-share many of our articles posted online to our Twitter account. I have mixed feelings about this. We’ve been doing it because there are some community members who still spend time on and get information from Twitter, and so having those tweets out there can help with discovery.

But by continuing to use Twitter at all, we contribute to its legitimacy and are no doubt a part of engagement statistics that are shared with advertisers and the public to discuss Twitter’s health and viability; not good. We’ll continue to evaluate the balance of harm vs good for us as a news organization and make changes as we go. I can imagine a time where we turn off our Twitter account and usage altogether.

Meanwhile we have increased our presence on Mastodon by having an account there and auto-sharing our articles to that account. We advertise that account on our website as a social media account to follow. And we’ve also made a financial contribution to support the operation of the journalism-focused Mastodon server where we have our account.

As someone who has followed and engaged with a lot of other journalists and journalism on Twitter over the years, witnessing this decline in its role as a conversation and publishing space is sad. But as many others have pointed out, there were problematic aspects of its dominant role in online conversation even before recent changes, and so I’m also glad that we’re collectively being pushed to explore alternative models.

Chris Hardie is a journalist, newspaper publisher, software developer and entrepreneur based in Indiana, USA. Read more from Chris on this site, learn more on his personal website, subscribe for updates or follow Chris on Mastodon.

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