So Elon Musk is now Twitter's "Chief Twit" after sealing a $68 billion AU deal to purchase the open and increasingly vitriolic social media platform.
As someone who has spent much of the last couple of years studying, teaching and writing about the impact of social media (SM) on news dissemination and media literacy, it has taken me awhile to strike a balance between being wary of social media and needing it to promote my team's work across the Mid North Coast.
Social media is a handy way to connect with friends, families and emergency services. It is a treasure trove of public photos, videos and story ideas that have changed how quickly journalists can verify and respond to breaking news.
On the flip side, it also harbours idiots like the Tik Tok car thieves, as well as comments that trigger legal action, make or break local restaurants or tradies, or leave decent people crushed by the comments of strangers.
When Facebook temporarily "un-friended" Australian news organisations last year over the mandatory Media Bargaining Code, many institutions, including universities and schools, saw their news and newsletters disappear from feeds.
That's partly why the vast majority of news organisations, like ACM, use social media to promote selected stories, not as a news publishing platform. When you see links to our journalist-written stories, they are taking you back to our proprietary sites, like the portnews.com.au.
Not all the local stories we write each day are uploaded to our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds. Some stories or videos are also emailed to our newsletter subscribers, just as you received this.
Everything, however, can be found on the website. It means we can control and prioritise our story selections, rather than leave them to the mercy of an ever-changing algorithm.
There's no surprise that Meta's Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter's new boss Elon Musk, and ByteDance's (Tik Tok) Zhang Yiming are among the world's most wealthy. It's because behind all our posts, is a cache of data that's worth "gazillions".
They say they don't sell our information (although Facebook famously helped Donald Trump win the US Presidency), but they do sell all the ads that pop-up based on the information we've provided, posted, or even spoken. Yes, sites with a microphone switched-on pick-up keywords in our speech.
Worth the most are our name, location, age, gender, employment status, income and even political affiliations or phobias. (That's why I get weight loss ads instead of bikini ads! )
I was one of Australia's first Google News Initiative trainers, which means I know how to find and debunk misinformation (I have plenty of party-tricks). Overwhelmingly, social media fakery pops up for political reasons, especially around election time. That's when the trolls and bots come out to play. They use our information to feed our likes and fears, making us think our decisions are our own.
As you can tell, SM is an area that interests me for all sorts of reasons. I'm always happy to share the results of my research and training with schools or community organisations, but don't be surprised if you spot me posting a pretty sunset or pics of my kids or dogs too.
After all, it's in our nature to be social.
Editor, ACM North Coast
(Port Macquarie News, Macleay Argus, Camden Haven Courier, Mid Co
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