ABC Walks Away from X/Twitter, Citing ‘Toxic Interactions’

Australia’s national broadcaster has decided to shutter the majority of its official accounts on the Elon Musk-owned social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. 

The ABC cited a combination of factors, including the rise of “toxic interactions,” financial considerations, and a desire to foster better engagement with its audience on alternative social media platforms. It has opted to retain only a handful of its official accounts.

The broadcaster will maintain four key accounts on X: @abcnews, @abcsport, @abcchinese, and the main @abcaustralia account, the latter being the primary hub for their content. ABC Chinese, geared towards Chinese-speaking audiences, will continue to serve its target demographic on the platform.

The ABC’s managing director, David Anderson, communicated the decision to staff members, highlighting the closure of accounts such as Insiders, News Breakfast, and ABC Politics earlier in the year, as having positively impacted engagement by reducing negative interactions. 

“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,” Anderson said, emphasizing the growing prevalence of toxic interactions on the platform, particularly since its ownership transition to Elon Musk. Several prominent ABC journalists have also previously abandoned the platform due to online abuse.

“Concerningly, X has reduced its trust and safety teams. Additionally, it is introducing charges which make the platform increasingly costly to use.”

Elon Musk responded to the ABC’s decision by accusing them of endorsing censorship. 

Notably, the ABC’s @abcemergency X account has been closed, with the broadcaster urging users to rely on local radio stations and its website for emergency information. Additionally, the long-standing relationship between the popular talk show @Q+A and X has come to an end, while the independent program ABC Media Watch will continue its presence on the platform.

The ABC’s move aligns with recent efforts to diversify its social media presence by directing resources towards platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Anderson emphasized that the bulk of the broadcaster’s social media engagement occurs on official accounts on other major platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

This decision positions the ABC as the third major public service broadcaster to disengage from X, following in the footsteps of NPR and PBS, both of which left in April. Musk had previously labeled these organizations as “state media,” a critique that garnered attention. 

Despite being previously categorized as “government-funded media,” the ABC initially resisted a similar withdrawal. However, the evolving landscape and the factors outlined by Anderson ultimately prompted this strategic shift in the broadcaster’s social media approach.

Information for this story was found via The Guardian, The Telegraph, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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