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Australian broadcaster closes Twitter accounts over ‘toxic’ behavior

Officials at the ABC said the organization will focus on content creation and user engagement on other social platforms, including Facebook and TikTok.

Officials at the ABC said the organization will focus on content creation and user engagement on other social platforms, including Facebook and TikTok.

Australia’s main public broadcaster has decided to shut down all but a handful of its Twitter accounts after experiencing a sharp increase in toxic and abuse behavior among users.

Starting this week, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) said it will maintain just four accounts on Twitter, now known as X: ABC News, ABC Australia, ABC Chinese and ABC Sport. The rest of the ABC’s accounts will be discontinued, with no new content published moving forward.

The decision was announced on Wednesday by David Anderson, the managing director of the ABC, who cited an increase in toxic behavior and cost considerations as the main reasons for the closure of the other accounts.

Both have increased sharply over the last 10 months since Twitter was acquired through a private sale by technology mogul Elon Musk, who immediately dismantled Twitter’s support and technical staff and re-wrote the company’s policies to suit his own interests.

Since then, Twitter has been beleaguered with security and technical problems — including a prolonged outage that left Australians unable to use their accounts — and a sharp increase in unchecked conspiracy theories and harassment amid a weakening in abusive behavior policies.

The ABC was particularly aggrieved earlier this year when Musk affixed a controversial “government-funded” label to their accounts. While technically true, the label gave the impression that the ABC’s content and news output was overseen by the country’s government, which is not the case.

After the label situation, the ABC suspended a handful of its accounts, including one dedicated to political news and another for its flagship morning show. The end result was a significant drop in abusive and harassing messages directed at the organization and its journalists, Anderson said, which inspired the broadcaster to close more accounts.

Some of the accounts affected by the new closures include one dedicated to providing emergency updates, and another for the broadcaster’s public affairs program “Q+A.”

The ABC becomes the third major public broadcaster to leave Twitter this year. In the spring, public broadcaster NPR and program distributor PBS both left the platform after their accounts were wrongly labeled as “state media.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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