I started using Twitter around 14 years ago to engage students in current events in my journalism courses.
I asked students to follow news media outlets and retweet three stories a week. They could be international, national or local news, politics to sports or entertainment. They posted with a class hashtag.
Then once a week I would retweet a select few of their tweets. Those current events stories could wind up on our weekly news quiz.
This month I told my students that I would no longer tweet and I would not require them to do so any more.
Since Elon Musk took over, I no longer believe that Twitter is a safe space especially if you are Latino, Black, Asian, LGBTQ, Jewish or from an underrepresented group.
The amount of hate speech on the platform rose within hours of Musk taking over.
Musk said nothing about it. He should have strongly condemned it.
I teach my students news literacy and how to identify fake news and conspiracy theories. But Musk retweeted one conspiracy theory about the brutal attack on Paul Pelosi, the spouse of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, amplifying a terrible falsehood.
The tweet was deleted. Again, no apology from Musk.
Twitter is now even more vulnerable to fraud and impersonation. The pay for a blue check mark for $8 fiasco also had disastrous financial consequences.
Someone set up a fake account for Eli Lilly which manufactures insulin.
On Nov. 10, a fake verified account with the name Eli Lilly and Company tweeted: “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.”
The announcement had over 1,500 retweets and 10,000 likes before it was finally taken down.
This led to chaos at the pharmaceutical company. They tried for hours to reach someone at Twitter to take down the fake account. That proved difficult because so many Twitter employees have left or been let go.
Social media has become part of our daily lives. It’s hard to say goodbye to a platform one has relied on for years.
Around 70% of all people in the U.S. use social media but even more Latinos, around 80% use it, according to Pew Research.
Twitter has been one of the less popular platforms as 23% of social media users are on it compared to 81% who use YouTube, 69% Facebook, 40% Instagram and 28% LinkedIn, according to Pew Research.
Social media isn’t just about selfies. It can be a powerful tool for social activism.
46% of Latino and 45% of Black people on social media said they have looked up information about protests and rallies in their area on social media in the past month compared to 29% of white users, according to Pew Research.
The future of Twitter is uncertain. Some predict it may soon fail. A few journalists have argued that Twitter should be preserved to defend democracy.
I don’t agree.
That’s like saying preserving the National Enquirer is about defending democracy. If a news outlet or a social media outlet becomes filled with conspiracy theories, threats and disinformation, then I don’t have to buy it or use it. It loses credibility.
I’m not going to delete my twitter as it stands as part of social media history.
I’m going to explore using something else such as LinkedIn, Mastodon or wait to see what new platform emerges. There are other social media platforms and new ones will hopefully emerge where the owners are more responsible.
For now, I’m on a social media break.