This may not be a great sign for X’s future prospects, especially if other media organizations decide to follow suit.
This week, Australia’s national broadcaster the ABC has announced that it’s shutting down all but four of its X/Twitter accounts due to changes at the app as a result of Elon Musk’s leadership.
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The government-funded ABC is a critical news source for many regional Australians, in particular, and has long been a key provider of updates in the app. But now, ABC no longer views the platform as providing significant value, with other social apps generating more engagement.
As per The ABC:
“The vast majority of the ABC’s social media audience is located on official sites on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, with TikTok forecast to have the strongest growth over the next four years. We want to focus our effort and resources on where our audiences are.”
The ABC has been mulling this decision for some time, with the broadcaster shutting down several of its biggest X accounts earlier in the year to measure the impact on engagement. It found that the reduction in account actually drove more traffic to its other X profiles, mitigating any loss, and resulting in reducing posting workload, without any significant impact.
But it has also noted another key reason for its decision:
“We also found that closing individual program accounts helps limit the exposure of team members to the toxic interactions that unfortunately are becoming more prevalent on X. Concerningly, X has reduced its trust and safety teams. Additionally, it is introducing charges which make the platform increasingly costly to use.”
Journalists, of course, are regularly subject to criticism on social platforms, but given that the ABC is government-funded, the vitriol directed at specific ABC personalities has, at times, been extreme.
The ABC claims that these types of attacks are becoming more common on X, under the leadership of Musk, which could be due to changes in moderation approaches at the app, or could be a result of users feeling more emboldened by Musk’s own usage of the platform, in which he often attacks critics and those he disagrees with.
The ABC also notes the increase in charges, referring to how X is pushing organizations to pay for X Premium (formerly X Blue) and/or Verification for Organizations. That may seem like a minor element, given the $8 cost for Premium, but there are over 56 separate ABC regional offices in Australia, and each has its own local sport and news desks, many of which also have their own X accounts.
Add them up and the cost does indeed become significant. And while X isn’t making businesses pay for verification, the evolving push towards such for improved functionality, especially for brands, could become costly for the organization.
It may seem like a minor change right now, given that it’s an Australian news publisher, with a relatively small audience, in global terms. But the fact that any news organization is now considering a move away from X is significant.
Twitter had long been a critical platform for news organizations, ensuring that they kept their audiences up to date with the latest info. But as Musk himself continues to criticize the “mainstream media”, and raise questions over their reporting, more providers are indeed now reassessing the platform’s value, which could see more eventually follow ABC’s lead.
If that happens, X could lose its status as the key source of real-time news. If more reporters start sharing updates on, say, Threads instead, that’ll eventually drive more users in that direction, which may eventually see the tide turning against X in this respect.
Of course, under Elon, X is continuing to evolve into something different either way, with a bigger focus on video content, and expanding its use case into new areas. As such, maybe it doesn’t see this as a key concern anyway, but losing its place as the top source for live updates will be a big blow for the app.
It’s nothing right now, and one news publisher leaving won’t see any major impact. But it’s not a great endorsement for how news organizations view the re-branded platform.