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Twitter's importance as a news source

Twitter is one of the top sources for news on social media

Elon Musk alone is now in control over one of the most important social media news sources after having completed his USD 44 billion acquisition of Twitter, fired top management and dissolved the company’s board. His future plans for Twitter are still mostly well kept within his management group but his control over Twitter as a news source is a fact and an example of ownership concentration.

A survey by US-based Pew Research Center shows Twitter is the third most important social media news source in the country.

Around half of US adults get news at least sometimes from social media. Facebook is number one with 31% of adults using it as a source for news. Number two is YouTube with a quarter of adults regularly getting news from YouTube. 

Number three is Twitter (14%), Instagram (13%), TikTok (10%) or Reddit (8%). Fewer regularly get news from LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), Nextdoor (4%), WhatsApp (3%) or Twitch (1%).

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“When looking at the proportion of each social media site’s users who regularly get news there, some sites stand out as having a greater portion of users turning to the site for news even if their total audience is relatively small. For example, while Twitter is used by about three-in-ten U.S. adults (27%), about half of its users (53%) turn to the site to regularly get news there. On the other hand, roughly the same share of adults (31%) use LinkedIn, but only 13% of its users regularly get news on the site”, the Pew Research survey says.

In many cases, there are demographic differences between the people who turn to each social media site regularly for news. On several of the social media sites, adults under 30 make up the largest share of those who regularly get news on the site. For example, half or more of regular news consumers on Snapchat (67%), TikTok (52%) and Reddit (50%) are ages 18 to 29. 

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Women make up a greater portion of regular news consumers on Facebook, while the opposite is true for Twitter and Reddit.

“Some partisan differences also arise when it comes to who regularly gets news on some social media sites. The majority of regular news consumers on many sites are Democrats or lean Democratic. No social media site in the survey has regular news consumers who are more likely to be Republicans or lean Republican. 

94% of journalists in the U.S. use social media for their job. Twitter is the number one.

Musk has declared himself a “free speech absolutist” but what that really means is still unclear. He has added that Twitter cannot be a “free-for-all hellscape”, a statement probably aimed at calming advertisers.

Around 90% of Twitter’s revenue is from advertising and for instance General Motors that temporarily halted paid advertising on Twitter and said it was “engaging with Twitter to understand the direction of the platform under their new ownership”.

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Days after having taken control over the company, Musk himself tweeted, and later deleted, a link to a conspiracy theory about an attack at the home of Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of America’s House of Representatives.  

Musk has assured that there will be no changes to Twitter’s content moderation policies for now. But he has also announced the creation of a new council to moderate posts, perhaps inspired by Meta that, after controversial moderations, appointed an independent Oversight Board that controls management’s moderation and rules against violence and hate.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Musk has earlier this year said that: 

“Twitter needs to be much more even-handed. It currently has a strong left bias, because it is based in San Francisco, one of the most liberal cities in the US. ‘I do not think that people are intentional, at least not all of them, I am sure that from their perspective it seems moderate, but they come out from an environment that is very far left.  This fails to build trust in other parts of the United States, and also perhaps other parts of the world”, he said.

“Twitter needs to be much more even-handed. The 10% far left and the 10% far-right must be equally upset”, he added. 

“The bird is freed”, Musk tweeted to confirm his acquisition of the company. The question is freed from what? 

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