Americans Weigh Pros and Cons as Musk Alters Twitter

Marie Rodriguez of Bountiful, Utah, began using social media when she enlisted in the U.S. Navy. At first, she saw it as a positive thing.
“It helped me to really keep in touch with people at home while I was deployed and living overseas,” she told VOA.
However, in the two months since Tesla CEO Elon Musk acquired Twitter, Rodriguez and many of its hundreds of millions of users have been forced to reevaluate their feelings about the platform and about social media in general.
“I don’t think he’s been positive at all,” Rodriguez said. “He’s allowing all of these previously banned accounts back on the platform, and I’m seeing more offensive Tweets — more anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ hate speech.”
“Some social media platforms over-patrol,” she added, “but Twitter isn’t patrolling enough. The result is more trolling, more bots and more hate. I’ve definitely been using the platform less because of it.”

Musk is a polarizing figure among Americans. In his own self-created poll on the platform, 57.5% of respondents said he should resign as Twitter chief, compared to 42.5% who said he should stay. (Musk has said he will abide by the poll’s results and resign his post as soon as a replacement is hired.)
Independent surveys, however, have shown Musk’s actions to be less unpopular than his Twitter poll indicated. A Quinnipiac University survey from earlier this month, for example, found that Americans’ opinions are more evenly split, with 37% saying they approved of the way he’s operating Twitter, 37% disapproving and 25% offering no opinion.
“I’m generally critical of billionaires,” said Avi Gupta, a neurobiologist in the nation’s capital, “but I’m so far supportive of what Musk has done for Twitter. As far as free speech is concerned, definitely, but also the platform’s just a lot more exciting to follow.”
A new Twitter
Gupta said he became disenchanted with rival social media platform Instagram when he posted a photo of Ukrainian soldiers who appeared to be wearing patches containing Nazi symbols. The post was promptly removed by administrators.
“To me, in that example, what Instagram is saying is that reporting on Nazism is no different than glorifying it,” Gupta explained. “It’s a form of censorship, but it was happening in pre-Musk Twitter, too. They were too quick to suspend accounts when they challenged mainstream thinking — whether it be about the Ukraine war, U.S. military interventions or COVID.”
“Since Musk,” he added, “I don’t have to censor myself as much, and you’re seeing previously banned accounts from politicians and scientists welcomed back. You have to balance that with stopping dangerous hate speech, of course — which I think they’re doing OK with — but overall, I think it’s been a good thing.”
According to University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication Professor Damian Radcliffe, Musk arrived at Twitter with an entrepreneurial reputation and a desire to grow the platform that appealed to many users.
Others, however, expressed concerns about what Musk’s commitment to freedom of speech and a scaling back of platform moderation might mean, as well as the implications of users now being able to purchase a verified “blue check” account.

“Those worries seem to have been justified,” Radcliffe told VOA. “I personally have seen a lot of people I follow leave the platform. They’re pointing to a less civil discourse, as well as a greater prevalence of misinformation, hate speech and conspiracy theories in their feed as the main reasons they’re departing.”
In the two months since he took over, Musk has reinstated several previously banned Twitter accounts — most notably that of former U.S. President Donald Trump, though Trump eschewed the platform after his reinstatement. Musk has also banned (and sometimes reinstated) the accounts of several journalists.
“It’s been wild to watch as he came in talking about free speech,” said Ron Gubitz, executive director of a New Orleans nonprofit organization. “But then, all of a sudden, he’s suspending journalists’ accounts, banning an account tracking his jet, and — albeit temporarily — saying we couldn’t post links to other social media.”
Gubitz is a self-described “Twitter head,” having been on the platform for more than 14 years. He said he’s been disappointed in how it has operated since Musk’s purchase.
“Initially it was annoying because the discourse was all about Musk,” he said to VOA. “What is Musk saying? What is he going to do? It felt middle-school gossipy.”
“But the user interface has also actually gotten worse since he took over,” Gubitz added. “The platform isn’t updating well for me, it’s not adding enough new tweets, there are ads at the top of the screen every time I refresh and the whole thing just feels less secure. I’m cool with change, but this is going in the wrong direction.”
America’s relationship with social media
“I use Twitter less and less every day and I’ve actually removed the app from my phone,” said Kimm Rogers, a musician from San Diego, California. “I used to see tweets from the people I follow, but now my feed shows me [acquitted Wisconsin shooter] Kyle Rittenhouse, Elon Musk and [Texas Republican Senator] Ted Cruz. There’s a lot more hate especially towards black people, LGBTQ and Jewish people. There’s also more porn showing up in my feed as well as lots of disinformation over vaccines and the war in Ukraine.”

“It’s just hard on my psyche to see the lack of common decency and the cruelty often inflicted on others on this site,” Rogers added, “It diminishes my view of humanity.”
Polls show opinions on the direction of Twitter are often connected to political leanings. Quinnipiac’s December poll showed that 63% of Republican respondents said they viewed Musk favorably, while only 9% of Democrats said the same.
Many left-leaning users have threatened to leave the platform entirely. According to information from the Twitter analytics firm Bot Sentinel, approximately 877,000 accounts were deactivated in the week after Musk purchased Twitter. Nearly 500,000 were temporarily suspended. In total, that’s more than double the usual number and has included prominent celebrities who cited a rise in hate speech and the banning of journalists as their reason for leaving.
More recently, some users have organized “Twitter Walk-out Days” in which they log off for a period of time in protest. Others have threatened to move to other social media platforms that better align with their values.
If those users do move on, Nicole Dahmen, professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, says it won’t be the first time users shifted away from a form of technology.
“Leaving Twitter is the latest iteration of unfriending Facebook a decade ago or killing your television in the 1980s,” Dahmen told VOA. “There are valid reasons to consume and participate with these mediums and there are even more valid reasons to leave them. They’ve ultimately trivialized American discourse, and our political, social and emotional health has suffered.”
But it’s not just Twitter that appears to be experiencing a plateauing of popularity around the world. From 2018 to 2022, average daily social media use increased by only five minutes — from 142 minutes to 147 minutes — according to During the previous four years, average social media use increased by a whopping 38 minutes per day.
Sense of community
“Social media can be a great thing in how it creates a sense of community and allows us to find commonalities,” said Ivory Burnett of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Burnett said she prefers Twitter over other platforms because it encourages what she sees as more authentic, “less cosmetic” interactions.
“When used for good, it’s the megaphone for an entire generation,” she told VOA. “But it also results in bullying, misunderstanding and crowd-thinking that makes it easier to spread hate and harm.”
But, like so many who, despite their frustrations with the platform, say they don’t want to start over elsewhere after dedicating so many years to building a following on Twitter, Burnett said she has no intention of leaving.
“Leave? I’ve never considered leaving,” she said and laughed. “I’ll be here until my login stops working.”

Source: Voice of America

With Warming, Snowbound Buffalo Braces to Find More Dead

Buffalo was set to emerge from a deep freeze Wednesday, bringing some relief but also the tragic possibility of finding more victims amid melting snow from the area’s deadliest storm in decades.
Officials said more than 30 people so far have been reported to have died because of the blizzard that raged Friday and Saturday in western New York, an area prone to powerful winter storms. The historic Blizzard of 1977 killed as many as 29.
Antwaine Parker told The Buffalo News that his mother, Carolyn Eubanks, perished at the home of strangers who took her in after her family tried to get help for the ailing woman.
Eubanks, 63, relied on an oxygen machine. With the power out in her home and emergency responders unable to answer calls amid the blizzard, Parker said, he and his stepbrother drove through the snow Saturday to rescue her themselves. She collapsed as they led her to a car, he said.
“She’s like, ‘I can’t go no further.’ I’m begging her, ‘Mom, just stand up.’ She fell in my arms and never spoke another word,” Parker told the newspaper.
The stepbrothers knocked on nearby doors, seeking someone who would help. They found David Purdy, who opened his door to two desperate strangers and helped them carry Eubanks inside and try in vain to revive her.
After they realized she was gone, Purdy and his fiancee sheltered her body until first responders showed up with plows the next day.
“I done it as respectful as I could,” Purdy told The Buffalo News. His own mother is roughly the same age as Eubanks was and also uses an oxygen machine, he said, and “if she needed help, I’d hope there would be people out there to help her, as well.”

Temperatures were expected to rise into the mid-40s (around 7 degrees Celsuis) on Wednesday and the low 50s (around 10 Celsius) by Friday, the National Weather Service said.
With enough snow still on the ground that driving was still banned in New York’s second-most-populous city, officials worked to clear storm drains and watched a forecast that calls for some rain later in the week. Officials in Erie County, which encompasses Buffalo, said Tuesday they were concerned about the possibility of flooding.
The weather service said Wednesday that “any flooding is expected to be of the minor or nuisance variety.”
While suburban roads and most major highways in the area reopened Tuesday, there was still a driving ban in Buffalo, and state and military police were assigned to enforce it. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, a Democrat, said “too many people are ignoring the ban.”
A Facebook group originally created in 2014, when Buffalo was buried under deep snow, has become a lifeline, seeking to help thousands seeking food, medicine, shelter and rescue in the latest storm. Currently managed by five women, the group swelled to at least 68,000 people as of Tuesday.
“We are seeing a lot of desperation,” said Erin Aquilinia, founder of the original group, in an online interview.

Source: Voice of America

Russian GDP may decline by 1% next year — first deputy premier

Russian GDP may decline by 1% next year, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Belousov has told the Rossiya-24 television channel.
“Naturally, the [economic growth] of 3% will not be achieved next year. It will certainly be lower. I think it will hover around zero. Our forecast is approximately minus one percent, maybe slightly less. Something like 1-0%. The first quarter and the beginning of this year were very good, so maybe there will be some base effect,” he said.
In his words, the government expects the year 2023 to be better than 2022 for the Russian economy.
“Generally speaking, if nothing happens, then we expect 2023 to be way easier than 2022 for the Russian economy. We project no fatal problems of any kind. We have managed to get hold of the situation in the first half of 2022, and everything is now under control,” the first deputy prime minister added.
Earlier, the Bank of Russia presented its adjusted mid-term outlook, which suggested an upgraded GDP dynamics outlook for 2022. In particular, the regulator expects GDP contraction by 3-3.5% in 2022. The Russian economy is projected to start growing in the second half of 2023, though by the end of the year the GDP growth rate will remain negative, ranging from -4% to -1%. In 2024-2025 Russia’s GDP will add 1.5-2.5% each year, the regulator said. In its previous forecast the Central Bank expected GDP contraction by 4-6% in 2022, 1-4% for 2023, and GDP growth by 1.5-2.5% was projected for 2024.
At the same time, the Russian Economic Development Ministry expects a reduction in the Russian GDP by 2.9% by the end of 2022, with subsequent decline of 0.8% in 2023 and the growth of 2.6% in 2024 and 2025.

Source: Lao News Agency

Authorities urged to provide funding for medical treatment of sick inmates

Mr. Bounsu Surinanthong, member of the National Assembly for Attapeu Province has called on relevant authorities to provide a certain amount of funding for the treatment of sick prisoners as there are some cases in which inmates die in prison or at hospital due to their late admission for medical help.
On Dec 27, the National Assembly (NA) approved two draft resolutions on the performance of the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Prosecutor’s Office over the past months and their targets set for 2023.
At the ongoing 4th Ordinary Session of the National Assembly, Minister of Justice Phayvy Siboualipha told members of the assembly that through 2025, the Supreme People’s Prosecutor’s Office will continue to place a focus on the supervision of law enforcement, human resource development and the development of enabling mechanisms to ensure public access to legal services.

Source: Lao News Agency

Lao, Vietnamese localities strengthen ties

Senior officials of central Quang Tri province of Vietnam and Laos’ Savannakhet and Saravan provinces held talks in the Vietnamese locality’s Dong Ha city on Dec 27, during which they signed cooperation agreements in various fields for 2023-2025.
This was an activity to mark the 60th founding anniversary of Laos – Vietnam diplomatic relations (Sep 5), and 45 years since the signing of the Laos – Vietnam Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (Jul 18).
In the cooperation agreement between Savannakhet and Quang Tri, the two sides agreed to continue strengthening political relations and exchanging delegations at all levels; coordinate in communications to raise public awareness about the importance of the shared border line and border markers, in preventing and promptly handling all violations of the regulations on border management and protection, and illegal migration activities in the border areas; and search and repatriate remains of Vietnamese volunteer soldiers and experts who died in Savannakhet.
both sides agreed to coordinate in completing a project on building the Densavan – Lao Bao joint cross-border economic and trade zone, and submit it to competent authorities of the two countries for permission to pilot implementing it; and ensure smooth and convenient implementation of entry and import and export activities through the Densavan – Lao Bao international border gate pair.
Meanwhile, in the cooperation agreement between Quang Tri and Saravan, the two sides agreed to ensure smooth and convenient implementation of entry and exit, and import and export activities through the La Lay – La Lay international border gate pair, study and propose the two Governments to allow the construction of La Lay – La Lay border economic zone; and propose the Governments to agree on and coordinate in the implementation of an economic corridor connecting Quang Tri province with southern provinces of Laos and Thailand through La Lay international border gate to My Thuy deep-water seaport on National Highway 15D.
Speaking at the event, Secretary of Quang Tri’s Party Committee Le Quang Tung stressed that the success of the talks is an important motivation to raise cooperation between the three localities to a new height.
Also on Dec 27, a high-ranking delegation of Saravan led by Phoxay Xayasone, Secretary and Governor of the province, paid a working visit to Quang Tri’s neighbouring province of Thua Thien-Hue.
On this occasion, the two provinces’ leaders signed a cooperation agreement for 2022-2026.
The two sides agreed to continue intensifying bilateral friendship and cooperation in politics, diplomacy, defence, security and border, economics, education and training, culture, tourism and health.
In the 2022 – 2026 period, Thua Thien – Hue province will support Saravan in building a friendship cultural house worth 8 billion VND (339,000 USD) and consider this as a meaningful project to celebrate the Laos – Vietnam Friendship Year 2022.

Source: Lao News Agency

UI GreenMetric 2022, Luiss among the top 20 most sustainable universities

UI GreenMetric 2022: Luiss among the top 20 most sustainable universities

Rome – Luiss continues to climb the UI GreenMetric 2022 ranking of the world’s most sustainable universities, taking 19th place globally among the 1,050 participating universities and 2nd place in Italy.

ROME, Dec. 28, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Luiss continues to climb the UI GreenMetric 2022 ranking of the world’s most sustainable universities, taking 19th place globally among the 1,050 participating universities and 2nd place in Italy.

Since its first entry in 2018, Luiss has climbed more than 200 positions, starting at 229th. The entire Luiss community’s constant commitment to sustainability has led to a continuous increase in overall score, now 8,875. Also, in the category “Energy and Climate Change” in particular, Luiss ranked among the top universities worldwide, and first in Italy.

Luiss climbed the international rankings of Higher Education: according to the prestigious QS World University ranking by Subject, the University named after Guido Carli is 1st in Italy and 22nd in the world for Political and International Studies and in the Top 100 for the Social Sciences and Management area.

Luiss University is at 53rd place in the top 100 of the Financial Times’ 2022 Masters in Management ranking, with a leap of 23 places, making it the fastest rising in 2022 and putting it among the top universities in the world. There are many assets at the base of this result; one of the most relevant is the career progress of its graduates. The jump is due to improved performance in various categories, in particular average salary, salary increase, and career progress, which have helped Luiss achieve its highest overall rank since 2017.

The Luiss mission is to educate enquirers: curious, resilient, and open-minded professionals in the areas of economics, law, management, and political sciences that are rigorous and reliable to frame and solve issues. Luiss enquirers think like scientists while acting as business leaders, lawyers, managers, policymakers or entrepreneurs. They are deeply engaged in society because they combine their attitude with other people’s resources to meet shared objectives.

For more information:

LaPresse SpA Communication and Press Office Director
Barbara Sanicola

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at

GlobeNewswire Distribution ID 8720862