Twitter’s uncertain future could leave politicos without a powerful tool

The possibility of Twitter going dark could leave political and public figures scrambling to find alternative ways to broadcast their messages.

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On Thursday night, #RIPTwitter began to trend after reports of a mass exodus of Twitter employees, adding another saga to Elon Musk’s takeover of the company. 

If Twitter were to go away, a local political consultant said it would take away people’s ability to deliver their message quickly, especially those in power.

“It functions as a micro-press conference, allowing for people like (Gov. Greg) Abbott or (Beto) O’Rourke, even local politicians, to make comments on news, knowing full well their audience is either media or organizations coalescing around particular issues,” said Laura Barbarena, who recently worked on Bexar County Judge-elect Peter Sakai’s campaign.

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Barbarena noted that Twitter’s role in the U.S. is likely much different than it is in other countries and that most who use the platform are “opinion makers, thought leaders and journalists.” Twitter now functions as a place where the media finds trending stories and what various personalities are saying about those stories.

Musk’s push to make users pay for a “verified” blue checkmark may have been a source of trouble for the company, Barbarena said, noting that advertisers left en masse after the announcement.

Alex Heath, an editor at the technology news website The Verge, tweeted on Thursday that he is “hearing from employees that the odds of Twitter breaking are highly likely in the near future.”

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Barbarena said Twitter “might just be in the ICU” with an opportunity for the platform to be resuscitated. People may also decide to replace Twitter with other social media outlets, forcing politicians and communication experts to master new platforms quickly.

Barbarena pointed out the increasing popularity of TikTok, which, unlike Twitter, is a video platform.  

“We got used to Twitter,” Barbarena said. “Speaking to journalists on that platform took the place of relationships. We may go back to the old-fashion things we used to do, like press releases, putting things on your website. We need to look toward new technology and new platforms.” 

A world without Twitter may be a boon for tradition forms of communication, like newspapers.

“The print news could fill the void, create a platform to fill the void, and offer journalistic services that were taken over by Twitter,” Barbarena said.

Read More: Twitter’s uncertain future could leave politicos without a powerful tool

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