Classroom Technology

Why Educators Have Stayed on Twitter After Elon Musk’s Takeover

By Alyson Klein — April 01, 2023 2 min read
The Twitter splash page is seen on a digital device, Monday, April 25, 2022, in San Diego. Twitter is once again adding gray “official” labels to some prominent accounts, Thursday, Nov. 10. The company, in its second chaotic week after billionaire Elon Musk took over, had rolled out the labels earlier this week, only to kill them a few hours later.
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When controversial entrepreneur Elon Musk took over Twitter last fall, teachers, principals, and district leaders had a big question to answer: Should I stay or should I go?

For most educators on the platform, the answer so far has been: Stay. Seventy percent of educators say their use of the platform remains unchanged since Musk’s takeover, according to a survey of 1,058 teachers, principals, and district leaders conducted by the EdWeek Research Center in January and February. About a quarter—23 percent—say their use of the platform has declined, while 6 percent say it has increased.

What’s more, 83 percent of educators said they have not started relying on other platforms more than Twitter, compared with 17 percent who say they have. Those who have gone to other platforms have migrated primarily to Facebook (68 percent) or Instagram (62 percent).

For over a decade, Twitter had been a place where educators can connect, share ideas, maybe even promote their side-hustles as podcasters or authors.

Musk, though, promised big changes that he said would bolster free speech on the platform, in part by getting rid of past practices that Twitter’s former leaders said were aimed at fostering a more informed, civil discourse. Those included fact-checking public figures and banning accounts that spread misinformation or hate speech.

About five months later, accounts the previous ownership banned have indeed been reinstated, the BBC reported. Those include Ye (the rapper Kanye West), who was barred for sharing anti-Semitic messages; the influencer Andrew Tate, whose offensive, violent rhetoric has rubbed off on some middle and high school boys; and former U.S. President Donald Trump, whose tweets appeared to encourage supporters to violently storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

It’s also arguably become harder since Musk took over Twitter for users to see posts from people they choose to follow as opposed to promoted Tweets, and to determine whether an account is authentic, according to the BBC.

‘We stick to our circles’

For now, though, educators are rolling with these changes, even if they had preferred the Twitter environment that existed before Musk’s takeover.

“So many educators like myself have connected, learned, grew, and shared on this platform long before Musk took it over,” said Nicholas Ferroni, who teaches social studies in Union, N.J., and has over 130,000 followers on the platform, in an email interview. “Twitter has helped so many educators network, share, learn, and cope. Many of us feel that as long as we stick to our circles, we can continue to exist here even though it is drifting into the abyss.”

“I am still here!” Mary Beth Hertz, a Philadelphia area educator with over 27,000 followers, said in an email interview. “I don’t get as much out of Twitter these days, though. I get the sense that I’m missing most of what people are posting. I use it to promote the school that I am building (though I do more of that on LinkedIn).”

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