Police consider Twitter future after Musk row

In the space of two or three short weeks, Twitter CEO Elon Musk has already managed to shake the platform to its foundations.

Bosses have been fired, 7,500 employees have been given notice of dismissal, and those remaining have been given an ultimatum to go “hardcore” and work long and intense days, or quit.

Several experts have cast doubt on whether Twitter will be able to deliver the same technical service in the long term.

The question now is what consequences this may have for the platform that several critical societal functions use to inform the media and citizens.

CHIEF: On October 31, Elon Musk took over as CEO of Twitter.  Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

CHIEF: On October 31, Elon Musk took over as CEO of Twitter. Photo: OLIVIER DOULIERY / AFP

“Unsure on Twitter”

Both the police’s operation centres, the fire service’s 110 centers and the Norwegian Public Roads Administration use the Musk-owned platform to report crimes, accidents, fires and traffic reports.

Now the Norwegian Police Directorate writes to TV 2 that the police are looking around for information channels other than Twitter.

“We are uncertain about Twitter’s way forward, and are working to use our own channels to convey information from our operational work,” writes emergency manager Tone E. Vangen in the Norwegian Police Directorate in an e-mail.

ASSESSES: Director of emergency response Tone Elisabeth Vangen in the Norwegian Police Directorate, says the noise around Twitter can also have consequences for the police's presence on other social media platforms.  Photo: Heiko Junge

ASSESSES: Director of emergency response Tone Elisabeth Vangen in the Norwegian Police Directorate, says the noise around Twitter can also have consequences for the police’s presence on other social media platforms. Photo: Heiko Junge

There should be no question of shutting down the police’s Twitter accounts, but rather switching to using other platforms that are not dependent on a third party.

Will speed up the plans

Until now, Twitter has been a good tool for the country’s operations centres, and Vangen describes the platform as a simple function where the many followers of the police can get quick information.

In recent weeks, however, there has been a storm around the Musk acquisition, and the emergency manager says they have recorded the debate afterwards.

In the wake of this, the police write that they want to speed up the plans to establish a separate alternative to Twitter.

“We want to make ourselves independent of commercial third-party solutions,” writes Vangen.

CHANGES: On Saturday, Elon Musk announced that Donald Trump was allowed to return to Twitter.  This is one of many changes Musk has made since taking over as CEO.  Photo: DADO RUVIC

CHANGES: On Saturday, Elon Musk announced that Donald Trump was allowed to return to Twitter. This is one of many changes Musk has made since taking over as CEO. Photo: DADO RUVIC

The Swedish Road Administration: – Great value

TV 2 has asked the management at the country’s 110 centers what they think about the Twitter row, but has so far not received an answer from them.

The management of the Norwegian Public Roads Administration say they are not looking for an alternative to Twitter now, but say they are making ongoing assessments.

“So far, we still get a lot of value out of using Twitter. We want to be where our customers and users are. Should the utility value change for various reasons, we will then make new assessments,” writes press manager Kjell Bjørn Vinje in the Swedish Road Administration.

Although Twitter is frequently used by them, Vinje says that social media is only a supplement.

– Our “main plank” for road and warning notices, consumer tips, press releases and other things is our own website vegvesen.no, as well as through the media, says Vinje.

INFORMATION: The Norwegian Road Administration and the Swedish Road Traffic Center use many different channels to notify citizens.  Twitter is a supplement, says the press manager.  Photo: Alf Simensen

INFORMATION: The Norwegian Road Administration and the Swedish Road Traffic Center use many different channels to notify citizens. Twitter is a supplement, says the press manager. Photo: Alf Simensen

“Pillow of Harassment”

ICT expert Torgeir Waterhouse in Otte is calling for a larger debate about how to react around arenas that become a central part of the common, large infrastructure in society.

– What is happening with Twitter now is another reason for the authorities to keep a close eye on their own use of the platform, says Waterhouse.

He does not think the platform has fulfilled its role as a government information channel, but says it is more important than ever to keep an eye on what is happening in the coming time.

– If Twitter develops as some fear, i.e. into a quagmire of harassment, this is not a suitable place for the Norwegian authorities to conduct communication, says Waterhouse.

EXPERIENCE: Torgeir Waterhouse, one of Norway's foremost experts in IT security for 20 years and founder of Otte AS.  Photo: Aleksander Myklebust / TV 2

EXPERIENCE: Torgeir Waterhouse, one of Norway’s foremost experts in IT security for 20 years and founder of Otte AS. Photo: Aleksander Myklebust / TV 2

– Needs a debate

Vangen in POD emphasizes that it is important to be available on digital platforms, but that there is now a larger discussion about where the police should be, and how.

“This is an important debate, with several sides of principle. Openness, accessibility, security and privacy are examples of important principles,” writes the emergency manager.

Waterhouse says Twitter can be a good information channel, as long as it’s not the only one.

– It is important to be aware of what the platform is suitable for and what it is not. You need a debate about the authorities’ use of communication, says the ICT expert.

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