Swedish Radio becomes first big European broadcaster to quit Twitter

Decision not influenced by Twitter's new policy, rolled out in North America so far, of labelling public broadcasters as government funded, says Sweden's largest radio company

By Reuters

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Published: Tue 18 Apr 2023, 6:57 PM

Swedish Radio announced on Tuesday it was quitting Twitter, the first major European public broadcaster to join three from North America that abandoned the social media platform in the past week.

Swedish Radio cited a reason for the move, saying its decision had been made because Twitter had lost relevance for a Swedish audience. It did not blame a new policy by Twitter under owner Elon Musk to label more public broadcasters as government funded.

"The audience has simply chosen other places to be. And therefore Sveriges Radio now chooses to deactivate or delete the last remaining accounts," Christian Gillinger, head of Social Media at Swedish Radio, said in a blog post.

US broadcasters NPR and PBS and Canada's CBC quit Twitter in the past week after the social media company added new labels to their accounts, designating them "government-funded media".

That change so far appears to have been applied in North America but not in Western Europe, where Swedish Radio, Britain's BBC and others are instead labelled "publicly-funded". Gillinger said Swedish Radio had no problem with its designation: "Based on the current definition, it's a correct description of how Swedish Radio is financed."

Sweden, a constitutional monarchy with a democratic form of government, is well-known for its socialistic and welfare-oriented public policies, which have often been cited a left-leaning.

Major Western broadcasters argue that there is a clear difference between those that receive public funding but are editorially independent, and those that are run by governments.

By far Sweden's biggest radio company with 7.4 million weekly listeners in 2021, Swedish Radio has been on Twitter since 2009. It said Swedes' interest in Twitter had waned, citing a report it said showed only seven per cent of Swedes used Twitter daily, compared with 53 per cent for Facebook and 48 per cent for Instagram.

Gillinger said most accounts would be deleted and others would be labelled as inactive. Individual reporters working for Swedish Radio were still free to use Twitter as they please.

He said it was worrying, however, that Twitter had reduced its workforce and that it could negatively impact Twitter's ability to handle bots, disinformation and hateful content.

"Of course, these are factors that also weigh in when we now decide to be editorially inactive on the platform," he said.

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