Why are universities slowly leaving X (formerly Twitter)?

One more. On Tuesday, December 12, it was the turn of the University of Bordeaux Montaigne to abandon X (ex-Twitter). In a press release, the institution said: “put your account on hold “. He is giving up his 17,300 subscribers and inviting them to follow him on other platforms such as YouTube, Facebook or LinkedIn. Bordeaux Montaigne is not the first university to leave. Since the acquisition of the network by Elon Musk in October 2022, higher education institutions have complained about the changes made to the platform. The University of Rennes-2 started the movement by leaving X last August. Since then, many of its counterparts have followed suit: Aix-Marseille left in October and Lyon-3 in November. Our French-speaking neighbors, the University of Luxembourg and ULB (Brussels) Özgür University) also stopped funding their accounts.

The same motivations are invoked every time. “The editorial evolution of this network encourages harassment and violent exchanges, raising our concern» denotes Bordeaux Montaigne. The University of Rennes-2, for its part, condemned: “editorial line » network. “We began to wonder since the takeover of Twitter by Elon Musk in October 2022. But we made our decision last May, after some moderation teams were fired and the platform withdrew from Europe’s rules of good practice against disinformation.», says Reine Paris, communications director of the Breton organisation.

Aix Marseille University, which made the same decision, confirms that its researchers are faced with the following problem: harassment and threats ” wax. “Their positions often come under fierce attack when they publish news about their work» indicates the communication department of the school.

Little visibility for scientific content

Another argument: the algorithm implemented in X serves scientific publications. “New programs prefer content that is likely to spark particular interest» states Pierrette Langlais, University of Montaigne, Bordeaux. In recent months, the number of our publications has decreased and our visibility has halved. ““We don’t see any point in staying any longer under these conditions.” Aix Marseille University is rich in: “With new algorithms, scientific content no longer has a place in X. Many scientists have left the network.” “When we announced our decision to leave to our teaching community, many expressed relief, He continues to work in the communications department. We have only stopped publishing information for now but we will actually delete our account.» The University of Rennes-2 confirms that the bounce rate from Twitter to its website has been very low for several months.

All three French universities announced their departure with a press release published on their accounts. Criticisms are pouring in under these posts. “Thus, we can say that there is no diversity of opinion about X. Pitiful. X has no editorial line, it’s a social network, not a newspaper! Subscribers make the content and apparently you don’t like what you see because you prefer privacy and censorship“, one user says Aix University of Marseille page. “You are right, we should act against freedom of expression.“, shows someone else Under the message of the University of Rennes-2. However, universities insist and sign. “We told ourselves that we might be criticized for leaving the platform and leaving the debate, but with the new algorithms, arguing has become too complicated. Especially those who attack scientific speech often only insult and harass because they do not engage in dialogue.» indicates communication from Aix Marseille.

Universities prefer other networks

Universities have been using Twitter to communicate for years. Where to retreat now? “We’ve been much more active on LinkedIn since leaving X » says Reine Paris from Rennes-2. Bordeaux Montaigne, on the other hand, decided to open accounts on the Mastodon and Bluesky networks, which are seen as alternatives to Twitter. “We are currently in the testing phase, trying to see what these platforms can bring us.» explains Pierrette Langlais.

The University of Aix-Marseille is also experimenting with Bluesky. “We have also created a new information website to disseminate the work of our teacher-researchers, offering articles and podcasts to promote the knowledge of our teacher-researchers.» According to Pierrette Langlais from Bordeaux Montaigne University, Twitter’s departure should not pose a problem for students. “It is true that some follow us on the network, but the majority use Instagram first to look at our news“, he narrates.

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