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CBS lifts moratorium on Twitter use

Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform Twitter, appears at an event in 2018.
Elon Musk, the owner of social media platform Twitter, appears at an event in 2018. (Photo by Daniel Oberhaus via Flickr, Graphic by The Desk)

CBS is allowing its news division and local stations to use Twitter once again after putting in place a temporary moratorium last Friday.

A spokesperson for CBS News said that the moratorium was in place “in light of the uncertainty around Twitter and out of an abundance of caution.” Two people familiar with the ban told The Desk that the ban was put in place due to security issues involving the company’s Twitter accounts, but declined to provide further information

Throughout the weekend, Twitter accounts associated with CBS News and CBS-owned local stations went silent while the ban was in place. The moratorium did not extend to CBS News employees or those who work for CBS-owned stations, who were free to continue using the social media platform.

On Sunday, a CBS News spokesperson said the ban was lifted, but noted that the company would “continue to monitor the situation.”

Twitter has experienced a severe bout of turbulence since tech mogul Elon Musk acquired the company in late October for $44 billion. Musk, who named himself chief executive, summarily fired several top managers at Twitter and issued sweeping layoffs that impacted nearly every division at the company.

The job reductions were so widespread that some former employees wondered if it was just a matter of time before Twitter was compromised or otherwise broke down.

Few changes at Twitter have earned Musk praise: The new CEO said Twitter’s verification system would be rolled into a new subscription service, a move that invited rampant impersonation and abuse. Musk also rolled back bans on several controversial figures, including Kathy Griffin, Donald Trump and Kanye West, after proclaiming Twitter as a platform for “free speech” (though users who changed their names to “Elon Musk” had their accounts suspended for a while).

Many high-profile Twitter users have defected to a competing social media platform called Mastodon, which runs on dozens of decentralized servers, or “instances,” and lacks a traditional business structure. Some long-time Mastodon users have been less than welcoming of the sudden surge: More than 70 Mastodon instances have banned one that has grown popular with journalists over concerns of “capitalist surveillance” and content scraping.

Administrators who run Mastodon instances are also dealing with headaches of their own as the platform becomes a popular destination for Twitter refugees. Some have complained publicly that moderation is becoming difficult, if not impossible, as instances swell to tens of thousands of users; others say costs associated with running servers have skyrocketed, and donations are not enough to cover the bills.