BIRD FLOWN: Is it time for the public sector to follow Stephen Fry off Twitter?

It’s fair to say that Twitter has been undergoing turbulence these past few weeks.

Entrepreneur Elon Musk has paid £44 billion for a platform that’s been failing to grow past 300 million users globally for too many years.

First, there was talk about charging for verification and now there’s talk about charging for access to the whole platform. If that’s not enough as a barometer of the times early Twitter pioneer Stephen Fry has walked out on 12.5 million users.

Is it now time to talk about the public sector and Twitter? I think it probably is.

The argument for

Twitter is still a space where journalists hang out. It’s where you can find them.

Twitter is still good for breaking news. In a crisis, the platform does itsd best in the first five minutes and its worst five minutes later. Having a presence to correct misinformation in a crisis remains important.

Twitter still has some professional networks. There are corners of good practice still.

The argument against

Twitter at its worst is rancid. It damages the people you employ to monitor it.

Twitter’s best days of being a professional network are behind it. LinkedIn and Facebook groups fulfil the role 140 characters used to. We’ve swapped serendipity for security. This only follows a trend of fractured platforms and smaller spaces often semi-private like WhatsApp groups 

Twitter’s charging for blue ticks at a stroke undermines the trust in established voices.

Twitter feels like its a plaything for a spoilt billionaire. Every platform has a cut off point for free speech. With 4Chan it was anime child porn, with Facebook it was militant Islamic snuff videos with Twitter under new ownership its people who laugh at Elon Musk. 

The bottom line

While the arguments for and against are perfectly valid the acid test comes down to your audience. 

Are they still using it? 

In the UK, Twitter is the 6th largest platform whose future is magnified by an unhealthy fascinating shown by journalists.

You are already unlikely to be reaching your audience directly through Twitter.

Is this something to worry about? For me, not really. The time to worry if you don’t check what you’re doing like a good navigator.

Once, Friends Reunited and MySpace felt like the future. Now they are nowhere. This week, Sam Bankman-Friend’s $15.6 billion crypto fortune was wiped out in 24-hours

The pace of change then is unforgiving and constant.  

Right now, rather than take a Stephen Fry approach I’d be scaling back on Twitter use and take the nudge to research the wider comms landscape. There are other platforms. How are they being used? 

At some point, we’ll look back at Twitter with some fond memories and we’ll know how it all went wrong. It feels like that day is closer than Elon Musk thinks.

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