The ABC has announced it will close the Twitter accounts of three of its most popular news programs after this weekend, a move that has angered some followers.
There are fears the decision will make it harder for the national broadcaster to engage with the public, and taxpayers with the broadcaster they fund.
The Twitter account of the weekday ABC News Breakfast program, hosted by Lisa Millar and Michael Rowland will close on Monday – a loss of almost 135,000 followers.
Meanwhile Insiders, the Sunday morning political chat show hosted by David Speers, and ABC Politics accounts will close on Sunday, losing 146,000 and 45,000 followers, respectively.
All three programs will, however, continue to maintain active Facebook pages.
In a statement obtained by The Australian, an ABC spokeswoman said the ABC was “consolidating our activity in our main Twitter account @abcnews, which has by far the most activity, followers and engagement with audiences”.
“This is a better use of resources while still serving audiences on this platform,” the spokeswoman said.
The ABC News Twitter account has 2.1 million followers. Its Q&A account is the second-most popular with 400,000 followers and will remain active.
Some followers of the ABC brands were upset by the announcement of the closures, with many voicing their disappointment with the move to a more “automated and not very interactive” main ABC News account.
“How does a program, that purports to cover the news and politics from the perspective of ‘insiders’ decide that the social media platform where politics is most discussed is not a place it should have a presence? And at a time where it’s viewership is declining?,” one user replied to the announcement on the Insiders account.
Another said they believed the ABC needed “more engagement, not less.”
“The people who regularly watched Insiders and QANDA have left in droves. Don’t you want them back???”
Followers of the ABC News Breakfast account called for a clear explanation why the Twitter account was closing but Facebook remaining open, when the former was “where you go to engage in politics and current affairs” and the latter, “primarily social for family and friends”.
“Can you at least give your viewers/readership a reason why you’re doing this? I’m not a Facebook user that often, and I prefer to get all my news from Twitter. I don’t want to say I’m sceptical, but your lack of justification makes me believe that something’s truly amiss,” another wrote.
Some accused the broadcaster of wanting to stymie negative criticism against its programs and its hosts; which other followers said was fair enough.
“The social media team must be run off their feet having to deal with the hate and utter rudeness directed (at) the ABC and its staff,” a follower wrote.
Criticism and hatred is nothing new to journalists, particularly those from the ABC.
Renowned ABC host Leigh Sales quit Twitter in April 2022 a week after an interview with then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison which triggered a barrage of vile abuse from online trolls.
Ms Sales had previously been vocal against online abuse, penning an article in 2021 calling out online trolls, revealing she was facing “personal, often vile, frequently unhinged” abuse at nearly an hourly rate on the platform.
In September 2021, ABC News Breakfast co-host Lisa Millar suddenly closed her Twitter account, choosing to opt out of the “constant barrage of criticism“ and “animosity” levelled at her.
Q&A hosts Stan Grant and, former, Hamish Macdonald have also opted out of Twitter.
In recent years ABC management has struggled to deal with the organisation’s social media policy, with instances of staff posting defamatory and offensive material bringing the broadcaster into disrepute.
Story Credit: news.com.au