It’s Time to Leave Twitter

S. Schuchart

Summary Bullets:

• Twitter’s current erratic decision making represents environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks for corporations now and in the long term

• Corporations should vote with their feet and choose the right thing for their business over Twitter’s marketing potential

The latest news on Twitter is that in response to a poll he himself ran, Elon Musk will step down as CEO as soon as (and if) a new CEO can be found. Since the beginning of Musk’s ownership of Twitter there have been erratic communications and unexpected changes coming from the company. The lack of consistency and transparency in particular around content moderation makes the reputational risks of using Twitter unacceptable and should compel corporations to abandon the platform.

There is a lot of tension in corporations around decisions regarding advertising or participating in Twitter. Without a doubt, Twitter has been a good way to advertise as well as a platform for direct connection with customers. The lure of a huge follower list is hard for anyone to turn their backs on.

Even as an individual, the lure of Twitter is bright. I recently left Twitter, downloading my data and deleting my account. (I’ve moved to a Mastodon instance, @sschuchart@c.im). My morals and conscience clearly saw a need to leave the platform in light of the moderation and safety changes. But I had been on Twitter since 2008. I got the first of several positions at Cisco because of Twitter. I’ve made friends, gained knowledge, and at least for the first few years, felt a general sense of community with people in the same technology circles. It was bittersweet to go, despite all the distressing things that have been happening recently at Twitter.

Corporate marketing, comms, and even the C-suite are going to find leaving Twitter to be a decision they simply don’t want to make. However, with the rise of ESG companies are more and more being judged not only on price, quality, and customer service, but also on corporate relationships they have. Millennials and Gen Z prospective employees take into account the reputation of any firm they may join. Furthermore, they are or will shortly be making buying decisions and they will take into account the social reputation of any company they do business with.

Corporations should seriously consider whether or not the marketing weight of Twitter is long-term worthwhile. Alternatives like Mastodon are available and actually offer better flexibility than Twitter. Companies should set up their own Mastodon instances, where they can set the rules for behavior and who their server federates with. Membership can be limited to the company itself, while still federating outside the company. It also eliminates the need for the awkward “I’m an employee of X corporation, but these are my personal opinions” aspect of Twitter. It makes it much easier for a company to tailor and control corporate micro-blogging, without another company’s policies to contend with.

There is a day of reckoning coming with Twitter in if it continues on its current course. Corporations should seek to pre-emptively mitigate damage by moving away from Twitter now. If nothing else, the mass exit of advertisers and corporate accounts may push Twitter back on a more palatable course.

What do you think?

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