Australian broadcaster reduces presence on Twitter platform.

Australian broadcaster reduces presence on Twitter platform.

The ABC Culls Twitter Accounts, Embracing Alternative Platforms

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), one of the nation’s most prominent media organizations, has made a bold move in reducing its presence on X (formerly known as Twitter). Citing trust issues and a desire to prioritize its resources where its audiences are, ABC has decided to focus on alternative platforms that have become home to the majority of its social media audience. This decision highlights the changing landscape of social media and the importance of adapting to meet audience preferences.

ABC’s decision to cull its Twitter accounts is not a rash one. It comes after a trial earlier this year involving the closure of three accounts. The trial aimed to gauge audience engagement and response on other platforms, allowing the broadcaster to determine the most effective ways to reach and connect with its audience. YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok were identified as the key platforms where ABC’s social media audience thrives, with TikTok projected to experience the strongest audience growth over the next four years.

However, there were more factors at play in ABC’s decision. The broadcaster expressed concerns over “toxic interactions” on X and the platform’s reduction in trust and safety teams. In addition, the introduction of charges made the platform more costly to use. These factors, combined with a need to prioritize resources, contributed to ABC’s reduced presence on X.

ABC’s news director, Justin Stevens, revealed that the broadcaster is currently trialing Meta’s X rival, Threads, and considering expanding its presence on this newer platform. This move showcases ABC’s willingness to explore alternative social media options in order to effectively engage with its audience.

While ABC has scaled back its presence on X, it has retained four accounts on the platform for now. These include its news and sports channels, as well as ABC Chinese, which caters to Chinese-speaking communities on social media. ABC has proactively pinned posts on the shuttered accounts, redirecting users to the alternative accounts where they can access relevant content.

ABC’s decision aligns with Australia’s online safety regulator eSafety’s efforts to hold social media platforms accountable. In June, eSafety issued a legal notice to then-Twitter, requesting an explanation of how the company was addressing online hate. Twitter had been the main source of complaints over the past year, accounting for one in three reports received by eSafety. The eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, pointed out a sharp increase in reported online abuse on Twitter since Elon Musk assumed control of the company in October 2022. This spike coincided with global workforce cuts that included trust and safety teams, leading to concerns over Twitter’s ability to effectively moderate and address harmful content. Twitter also removed its public policy presence in Australia, further exacerbating regulatory concerns.

This increased scrutiny on social media platforms like Twitter has prompted eSafety to serve legal notices to other platforms as well. In February, legal notices were issued to Google, TikTok, Twitch, and Discord, seeking information on their efforts to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual extortion, and the promotion of harmful content via their algorithms. These actions underscore the regulator’s commitment to ensuring user safety and holding platforms accountable.

ABC’s decision to cull Twitter accounts is not just a reflection of its changing social media strategy; it’s indicative of a wider shift in how media organizations are adapting to audience preferences and addressing issues of trust and safety. As social media platforms continue to evolve, media outlets must stay agile, embracing alternative platforms and engaging their audiences where they are most active. The decision by ABC serves as a reminder that innovation and adaptation are essential in maintaining relevance and connection in the digital age.