Fox News will not tweet this story
Tuesday was a red-letter day for Fox News: The launch of Fox Nation, its new subscription streaming service designed to appeal to the most obsessed Fox News fans. And yet, armed with a Twitter feed capable of reaching 18.3 million followers, the network did not tweet a single thing about the launch.
In fact, Fox News hasn’t tweeted since Nov. 8, when it began a silent protest against Twitter after a group of demonstrators posted star host Tucker Carlson’s home address on the social network.
With the apparent boycott — which also includes the Fox Business Network Twitter feed, as well as a few other official Fox News feeds — set to enter its third week, Fox News has remained all but mum on why it’s avoiding the platform or what it hopes to accomplish. But owner Rupert Murdoch has long expressed frustration with social media platforms like Twitter, which he believes benefit greatly from news publishers’ content without offering enough in return. If anything, his network’s recent absence is highlighting how little Fox News relies on the platform.
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About 1.4 percent of FoxNews.com’s traffic came from Twitter in October — including both the network’s official accounts and any other links to Fox News on the social media site — according to the analytics tracker SimilarWeb, while nearly 70 percent came from direct clicks on the site.
“Twitter is not really consequential to the actual business of [Fox] or News Corp in any meaningful way, so not sure it matters one way or the other,” emailed Raju Narisetti, a Columbia Journalism School professor who previously served as a senior vice president at Murdoch’s company, News Corp., as well as CEO of Gizmodo Media Group. “It is a good megaphone and helpful for breaking news discovery and some brand building but not sure any major media company thinks of its use/non-use as a major revenue issue per se.”
Still, people close to the network said they thought Fox’s silence would have ended by now, particularly with the Fox Nation launch. And nobody — including some buzzing Fox News staffers — seems to know how the standoff will end.
“Talking and confused,” is how one Fox News employee described the mood among staff.
“It’s weird that a news organization would do a silent boycott,” said one former Fox News executive, who pointed out that, if there is a dispute with Twitter, the usual response would be to report on it. “It’s like having a protest inside of your bedroom and not telling anybody.”
Even if Twitter does not generate big traffic for Fox, the platform is full of influential accounts. Another person who appears frequently on the network said, “I can’t imagine the publicity they’re losing with the Fox Nation launch.”
An advertisement for “Fox & Friends” is displayed outside of the Fox News studio.
The network’s silence stems from frustration over Twitter’s response to the harassment of Carlson, according to a Mediaite report that Fox News has not disputed. A Washington anti-fascist group had posted his address on the platform, leading a group of people to assemble outside his home and shouting threats. After news reports, Twitter removed the offending tweets and suspended the group’s account. Fox News was frustrated by Twitter “fostering a dangerous climate” and not responding quickly enough to requests that it remove tweets targeting Carlson, Mediaite reported.
While some hosts, including Carlson, also stopped tweeting, others, including his prime-time colleagues Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity, have continued. Business Insider reported after the boycott began that a high-level Fox News editor emailed digital staff asking them not to tweet Fox News links from their personal or digital accounts “until further notice.”