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Local title quits X in protest at ‘fake news and extremism’

Paul Hutchinson 2022A local news title has deleted its account on X in protest at the way the social media platform is being “used to spread misinformation, fake news and extremist propaganda”.

The Bedford Independent has removed its profile from the platform, formerly known as Twitter, after reports the company has removed the ability for people in some countries to report a post for containing misleading information.

The Independent says the move has added to X’s reputation as an “unsafe outlet for accurate information”, citing examples such as its Covid-19 misnformation policy being shelved and reports that the ability to “block” other users is set to be “greatly limited”.

The title announced its stand against X, in what is believed to be a UK regional press industry first, on Thursday.

Co-founder and co-managing editor Paul Hutchinson, pictured, said: “As a respected and responsible news source, our priority must always be fact-based reporting.

“The need for verified and trusted information is more important than ever and it is a shame that someone who owns one of the largest social media channels in the world does not understand that constructive free speech comes with responsibility.

“These and other changes on X mean our editorial values no longer align with the way [X owner Elon] Musk wants to run his platform.

“Twitter was always a place where discussion was free and open, but where people could trust what they were reading was largely accurate. Since taking over, X has become a dangerous platform for extremist views and misinformation.

“The ongoing erosion of safety features that worked to stem the flow of misinformation and harassment has made the platform unsafe.

“No genuinely responsible publication or media organisation can ethically endorse such a platform.”

According to The Guardian, the ability to flag tweets had been available in six different countries – the USA, Australia, South Korea, Brazil, the Philippines and Spain – but the tool has now been removed.

The move has been highlighted by digital platforms critic group Reset Australia and comes ahead of a referendum on giving Indigenous Australians a greater voice in parliament.

HTFP has approached X for a response to Paul’s comments.