Annapolis quietly announced this week that it was parting ways with X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter that some say has become a forum for extremist groups since billionaire investor Elon Musk took the helm last year.

Followers of the city’s account had plenty to say about the move — until the city’s account vanished Friday.

A post Monday on the city’s account simply said, “The City of Annapolis will no longer be posting on this platform. Please follow us on Facebook, Instagram or subscribe to items of interest using the City website under “NotifyMe” (https://shorturl.at/bkovF).”

City officials have offered little explanation for the move to its more than 16,200 followers on the platform.

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The Maryland State House and Main Street are seen from Annapolis City Harbor on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023. (Kylie Cooper/The Baltimore Banner)

Mayor Gavin Buckley could not be reached for comment. His office referred questions to a city spokesperson, who said the city doesn’t have to use any specific social media platforms and engagement on X has greatly fallen off.

The move came a day after Musk restored the account of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who infamously claimed that the 2012 elementary school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, was a hoax. Annapolis was the scene of a mass shooting on June 28, 2018, when a gunman killed five staff members at the Capital Gazette newspaper.

It’s unclear if there is a connection between Musk’s action and the decision by city leaders.

Monday’s announcement was met with mixed reactions from X users.

One user tweeted, “Such a clear lack of interest in what the constituents desire.” Another critic wrote, “Free speech is scary, isn’t it?”

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Another X user, who backed the departure, tweeted, “Good call. This place is a dumpster fire and it’s owner is a joke. If I was better person who didn’t enjoy watching the ship sink I’d be gone too.”

An indifferent X user tweeted, “This is not an airport, you don’t need to announce your departure.”

However, the spirited exchange of comments that accompanied Monday’s post could no longer be viewed as of Friday, when the city’s account, including past posts, was gone.

It was not clear who took the posts down, but the city’s spokesperson said they had been archived.

Clicking on a link to the city’s account now takes one to a message on X that reads: “This account doesn’t exist.”

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 13: Elon Musk attends TIME Person of the Year on December 13, 2021 in New York City.
Elon Musk attends TIME Person of the Year on Dec. 13, 2021 in New York City. (Theo Wargo)

According to the website bigtechnology.com, X has lost 13% of its daily app users since Musk acquired it in October 2022.

The social media platform has become a lightning rod for criticism as Musk, who calls himself a free speech absolutist, has loosened controls on what is shared, rebranded Twitter as X, restored the account of former President Donald Trump and chimed in with provocative comments on daily events.

NPR stopped posting to the platform in April after the platform designated the network “U.S. state-affiliated media.”

Apple and Disney last month suspended advertising on X after Musk endorsed an antisemitic conspiracy theory. Musk later apologized for what he called his “dumbest” ever social media post.

On Sunday, Musk restored the account of Jones, the Infowars host who falsely claimed that the 2012 shooting that left 20 elementary school children and six school employees dead in Newton, Connecticut, was a hoax. The gunman also killed his mother earlier in the day, and himself after the school shooting. Relatives of many of the victims sued Jones in Connecticut and Texas, winning nearly $1.5 billion in judgments against him.

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Musk, who had previously said he wouldn’t reinstate Jones, cited an unofficial poll of X users that he said found 70% wanted Jones back. “The people have spoken and so it shall be,” Musk declared.

While Annapolis city leaders have decided to depart X, city departments may continue to use the social media platform, the city’s spokesperson said.

As of midweek, the police and fire departments and the Office of Emergency Management were continuing to share news and public service announcements on X.

Buckley hasn’t used the platform since May 24, 2022, when he used it to express sympathy with the families of the 19 children and two educators fatally shot at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school. “We’re also thinking of all those in our community who’ll be tragically reminded of their own painful memories and heartbreak,” he wrote.

The city of Annapolis continues to use Facebook and Instagram. But a spokesperson noted that it is not on MySpace, Snapchat or TikTok and stopped using NextDoor.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Royale Bonds attended Southern Illinois University. Go Salukis! She previously worked as an affordable housing reporter in Greenville, South Carolina. Royale enjoys long naps, snacking and endless scrolling on social media. She looks forward to reporting on Anne Arundel County and covering the stories that matter. 

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