Twitter changes create new challenges for journalists verifying information

With a new CEO, changes to this social media network are beginning to take effect. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Recent changes to Twitter are causing frustration throughout the journalism community, as the blue check verifications are now available for sale and content moderation is reportedly nonexistent. 

Before Elon Musk became CEO of Twitter, users  including journalists had to gain followers to become certified or prove their identity and importance within a given field. Now, all Twitter users have to do is pay $8 to get that blue checkmark by their names.

This is now creating confusion for audiences who get their news from Twitter, and irritation for journalists trying to maintain credibility in a changed social media environment.

Rob Collins, executive director of the Oklahoma Media Center, said Twitter is “Frustrating for the newsroom.”

Collins said that journalists experience difficulty because users who are not journalists become certified and claim to be reporters while posting fake reports and making false claims.. 

Another hurdle journalists face now is being kicked off the app for posting a story Musk does not like, Collins said. 

This trend is becoming more common. In 2022, Musk blocked many reporters from CNN on the social media platform for being “toxic.”

Twitter users also attack journalist constantly on their appearances, their stories and even about where they work. Collins said that his nonprofit and many other news organizations are training their journalists on how to handle attacks. He said that even with all of the red flags Twitter is waving right now, journalists still should use it. He said this generation that is being brought up will most likely only use platforms like Twitter to get their news.

“It’s a great engagement tool for journalists, they can get lots of engagement with their followers through it.” Collins said.

Now if journalists or anyone else looking for a new social media platform besides Twitter to get a new space, Collins said the app Mastodon is gaining attraction. 

He said experts are calling this app a “safe haven” for journalists to post stories without the fear of retribution Twitter brings. However, it has not gained much traction yet.

Another way to look for fair and unbiased news is to not just look at Twitter as the only source of news.

“I don’t believe in using one source,” Collins said. “Check multiple sources before believing.” 

Next week, The Vista will report on the new Twitter challenger rolled out by Meta/Instagram this month, Threads.

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