How Twitter became one of the world’s preferred platforms for sharing ideas
Billionaire Elon Musk has owned Twitter for lower than a month. However one factor is obvious: It is going to by no means be the identical social community that the world has come to know over practically twenty years. Musk has made radical selections, seemingly single-handedly, comparable to promoting blue verification checkmarks and reinstating accounts that had been banned for breaking Twitter’s guidelines in opposition to violent or offensive speech, together with these of former President Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West. Lengthy-time customers and advertisers are fleeing.
Whether or not the corporate survives the current chaos or not, the historical past of tweeting exhibits simply how vital the platform has been since co-founder Jack Dorsey transmitted the very first message on March 21, 2006.
“There actually isn’t any different place the place you might be any widespread particular person with no political energy, no financial energy, and but you may story-tell utilizing textual content, picture and audio, you may hyperlink up and interact with individuals regionally and globally round a difficulty, after which you may obtain your historical past and perceive how all of this occurred,” stated Desmond Upton Patton, a professor of social coverage, communications and psychiatry on the College of Pennsylvania who research Twitter. “That’s really wonderful.”
Social Actions and Political Causes
Over time, Twitter has helped to impress a big selection of social actions and political causes internationally from the Arab Spring and the current human-rights protests in Iran to #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo.
Seattle-based social media influencer Sean Gardner factors to this tweet by Twitter co-founder Dorsey as being emblematic of the platform’s use as a device to unfold concepts and incite individuals to motion:
“Jack Dorsey’s tweet is unquestionably one thing that stands proud,” stated Gardner. “I assumed that was only a good tweet as a result of that is precisely what Twitter has completed.”
The platform has been very influential overseas, with round 80 p.c of customers dwelling exterior of the U.S. Greater than a decade in the past, Twitter turned a robust device for sharing info and reflections in regards to the protests occurring in Egypt and past through the Arab Spring.
And nearer to residence, tweeting helped impress tens of millions of individuals within the wake of George Floyd’s homicide on Could 25, 2020, with individuals sharing their anger and anguish utilizing hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #JusticeForGeorge. Information platforms used Twitter to report on the unfolding occasions.
Quickly after Twitter turned a “factor,” some elected officers additionally began to see the platform as a helpful option to attain individuals.
“Barack Obama was really the primary social media head of state,” stated Gardner of the previous President. “It was due to him that nations obtained on board, and other people began speaking with one another on-line.”
However it was Obama’s successor who took tweeting to an entire new degree. Gardner stated Trump’s maintain on Twitter modified the face of politics.
“Trump is nearly like a quarterback, and what he was doing was throwing the ball over to his vast receivers, which is principally individuals who had been receptive to his specific message or stance,” Gardner stated. “So it is probably not one tweet with Trump. For those who look again at it, it is in all probability 1000’s.”
Twitter eliminated Trump’s account following the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol. However a string of his tweets from that date, preserved by U.C. Santa Barbara’s American Presidency Undertaking, illustrate the ex-president’s use of the platform.
Trump has not but jumped again on since Musk reinstated his account on Nov. 19.
Twitter’s Lighter Aspect
For the College of Pennsylvania’s Patton, Twitter has all the time been a spot to share a joke and a spot to begin a riot. He factors to Black Twitter as a supply of pleasure and resilience, particularly through the vacation season.
“The vacations could make for a sophisticated time for coping with relations,” stated Patton. “Black Twitter can take a problematic second and switch it right into a enjoyable meme or a enjoyable joke with which everybody can resonate.”
However Patton reacted strongly to Musk’s takeover of Twitter — a sense shared by many after the brand new proprietor despatched out a tweet on Oct. 26 saying, in esoteric trend, his presence on the firm’s San Francisco headquarters.
“Twitter has issues that must be mounted, however the device has extra hope and potential than negativity,” Patton stated. “It simply appears like a wasted alternative for Twitter to essentially do some good on the earth.” [Copyright 2022 NPR]