CBS News ‘pauses’ presence on Twitter

CBS News has “paused” its activity on Twitter as concerns and confusion grow about the future of the social media platform and its content.

“In light of the uncertainty around Twitter and out of an abundance of caution, CBS News is pausing its activity on the social media site as it continues to monitor the platform,” CBS News national correspondent Jonathan Vigliotti reported on Friday, Nov. 18, 2022’s “CBS Evening News.”

The pause appears to affect the main @CBSNews account as well as the individual accounts for its various news programs, such as @CBSEveningNews, @CBSMornings and @CBSSunday (the account for “CBS Sunday Morning“) as well as the accounts of its owned stations in major markets across the country.

CBS News Bay Area (KPIX), which is based out of San Francisco, tweeted a statement identical to Vigliotti’s later on Nov. 18.

Other CBS-owned station accounts appear to have remained silent since then as well

The @CBS account, which is associated with network as a whole, hasn’t tweeted since Nov. 18, as of this writing, though it historically has not posted as frequently as news-related accounts.

@CBSSports, meanwhile, does not appear to be included in the pause, as it has continue to post updates. Accounts for individual CBS entertainment shows, which are not always directly controlled by the network, have remained active, though some tend to be more active than others. 

The pause of CBS on Twitter comes after weeks of turmoil and uncertainty after Tesla-owner Elon Musk closed on his controversial acquisition of Twitter. Since then, questions about the platform’s content policies have drive up concern about the platform, given that Musk has billed himself as a proponent of free speech without specifically defining what that means.

CBS hasn’t offered any official reason beyond the statement in the report it broadcast, but sources say the network has specific concerns about the security of the platform under Musk.

Numerous celebrities and other high profile influencers have exited the platform, some pointing to Musk’s alleged right-wing politics as well as other issues.

The company has shed thousands of staffers since the acquisition, many of them being fired over email after finding themselves locked out of their work accounts. Others were reportedly forced to click a link to acknowledge a grueling period of work to come under Musk or risk being fired. The company has also locked staffers out of offices on and off since the acquisition. 

The company’s communication department appears to have been dissolved, making it difficult for media outlets to seek comment from Twitter about changes.

Meanwhile, Twitter also briefly began offering accounts the ability to have a blue “verified” checkmark just by paying $7.99 a month, which spiraled out of control as people forked over money and then changed their account names, including using Musk’s name. 

Many of these account holders appeared to do this simply to prove the point of the short-sightedness of Musk’s move. 

Twitter then began suspending accounts for not using their real names.

It then abruptly halted the pay-for-checkmark program and has since rolled out a second gray check-mark to indicate an account as “official” — essentially the same status as a “verified” badge gave an account before the change.

Advertisers and agencies have also cooled on the platform, with many companies cutting ad buys significantly or completely. Twitter depends largely on ad revenue to make money.

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CBS News is the first major U.S. national news organization to halt using Twitter, though several smaller outlets have said they will close their accounts. CBS has not ruled out returning to the platform later.

News organizations often rely on Twitter for generating clicks to their own sites and engaging users to spend on time there, which, in turn, can generate additional ad revenue for the media outlets themselves.

How much traffic Twitter drives to news websites varies depending on the outlet and audience and it’s not clear if cutting off Twitter as a traffic source could have sigifnicant effects on revenue or visitors.

News organizations can also use Twitter to promote upcoming TV broadcasts, sliding into users’ feeds to attempt to get them to switch over the watching a scheduled program on linear or streaming TV. For example, many networks regularly send a tweet out just before their national newscasts begin in each time zone.

Twitter is also often used by news organizations to report brief snippets of breaking news as it happens. News anchors and reporters also often have substantial followings as well and use their accounts to tweet news, tease upcoming reports and share glimpses into their personal lives.

It does not appear CBS News has directed talent to stay off Twitter because multiple reporters and anchors still appear to be actively using their accounts (since most of these accounts are controlled by an individual and disclaim they are personally-controlled, they likely would not fall under the decisions of the organization to halt using Twitter).

This isn’t the first time a media organization ordered a Twitter blackout.

In 2018, the @FoxNews account stopped tweeting tweeting for a period of time in response to what it called Twitter’s slow response to take down tweets containing Fox personality Tucker Carlson’s home address that lead to security concerns about his safety. 

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