The new digital divide

The new digital divide

Everyone in journalism is aware of social media giants Facebook and Twitter’s power to distribute the news in our brave new online world.

Facebook especially seems to hold the power to decide which media outlets are the winners and losers by programming their algorithms to favour posts and content Facebook wants its users to see.

But there’s another way Facebook and Twitter can decide whose voices are heard above the general online hubbub of countless news reports each day.

I noted Twitter was now acting to quite rightly clamp down on trolls on its platform. One of the ways Twitter wants to minimise harassment is by verifying more accounts.

I decided to apply for verification for my journalism workplace twitter handle @neilmpnews since Twitter listed ‘journalists’ as one of the occupations it deemed “of public interest” to be verified.

After a few days I received this email from Twitter:

unable to verify

Twitter has “reviewed the account” and decided “it is not eligible to be verified at this time” so “NO BLUE TICK FOR YOU!”.

It’s the second rejection for access to services available to other journalists I’ve received from a social media company in recent months.

Facebook kindly informed me, after I applied for access, that I’m not in “a subset of journalists” allowed access to their Signal product “to surface relevant trends, photos, videos and posts from Facebook and Instagram for use in their storytelling and reporting”.

signal

We now live in a world where the likes of Twitter will boast about Kim Kardashian being one of the first Twitter users to be verified.

A journalist not deemed worthy of being a member of an undefined subset of journalists? Forget it.

It’s the new digital divide for journalists as judged by Facebook and Twitter. You’re either a journalist “of public interest”. Or you’re not. Apparently.

(I also have a non-work personal Twitter account @mediamook and couldn’t care less if that account is verified or not.

Although now I’ve wondering if I want to tweet at all on a social media platform that effectively treats me as a second-class citizen from a work point of view.)

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