Tag Archives: twitter

Twitter: A Centre for Citizen Journalism

Social media has greatly evolved the way one receives their news and allows them to take a larger role in it than ever. While the public traditionally received news by reading about it in the newspaper, hearing it on the radio, or seeing it on TV, nowadays social media is the most immediate way to receive news as it is right at one’s fingertips. The platform Twitter allows users to view trending news both locally and worldwide, along with various discourse about it on one’s timeline or hashtags. Twitter allows users to engage in citizen journalism, making it a democratic space that helps users better understand the news. 

This evolution of receiving news on Twitter’s platform results in a more rounded understanding of the stories being shared. One is no longer only relying on the author of an article, but is exposed to a multitude of opinions. Users are able to read a tweet from someone directly involved in the situation and are made aware of the main objections or arguments surrounding the issue too. Tweets have a “quote” feature meaning users can essentially add on to an original tweet, giving their own thoughts or comments. These tweets can then be retweeted or liked, sometimes gaining more popularity than the original message. Along with replies, this is often where dissemination takes place. 

When someone – a bystander or person involved in an event – posts some kind of media, often a smartphone photo or video, this is called citizen journalism (Barnes 23). Citizen journalism is defined aspeople without professional or formal training in journalism [having] an opportunity to use the tools of modern technology and the almost limitless reach of the Internet in order to create content that would otherwise not be revealed…” (16). Citizen journalism is an important part of social media being a democratic space. It allows a variety of voices to be heard instead of only professional journalists or government officials. Barnes writes, “Citizen journalism has put back democracy into the hands of individuals, as anyone with a mobile phone or a camera can be a citizen journalist” (23).

The downside of citizen journalism is there is a higher potential for false stories to be spread, as it does not require fact-checking. Still, citizen journalism has proven to be complementary to traditional journalism, and at times, in the case of natural disasters or other instances, it is the only source of information. During the 2009 political upheavals in Iran, some writers referred to it as the “Twitter revolution,” since “traditional media entities like CNN, MSNBC, BBC, CBS and other networks [were blocked and] had to rely on information from the social media such as Twitter for their information” (Barnes 22). This is a positive instance where citizen journalism, unlike traditional, is also able to provide instantaneous news and the media is often used by traditional journalists to piece together events later on. It also works well to capture people’s shorter attention spans on social media. Oftentimes important news at the moment is “trending” on Twitter or will be all over one’s timeline. Contrary to traditional news, citizen journalism reveals aspects that may not be on news channels or mainstream media and through users sharing it, it is now given a platform. 

In the case of the Black Lives Matter movement, posts on Twitter and citizen journalism helped to spark the recent protests after the death of George Floyd. According to Pew Research, “There were roughly 218,000 tweets containing the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag the day after his death, when the first bystander video was posted online” (Anderson). This video, an act of citizen journalism that circulated on social media, reveals the police brutality that led to Floyd’s death. It resulted in the 4 officers being fired and later after protests, they were also charged (“Officer in George Floyd Death Faces 2nd-Degree Murder Charge, Others Also Charged”) The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter was created on Twitter, “in 2013 by Patrice Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi—California and New York-based organizers active in incarceration, immigration, and domestic labour campaigns—after the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder in Florida of seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin” (Rickford 35). Citizen journalism has also been used to reveal the violent actions of police at protests as well as displaying the peaceful protests occurring around the world. In contrast, “On balance, Americans say too much news coverage has focused on acts of violence during protests, too little on nonviolent protests” (Mitchell). While mainstream news coverage reveals often the violent side of the story, citizen journalism is able to also show the nonviolent side which is not reported on as often.

By being exposed to these democratic spaces and posts on social media like Twitter, viewers are able to change their opinions especially when it comes to political or social issues. According to a July Pew Research Center survey, “roughly a quarter (23%) of adult social media users in the United States – and 17% of adults overall – say they have changed their views about a political or social issue because of something they saw on social media in the past year” (Perrin). Twitter as a democratic space has allowed viewers to become further educated and engage in citizen journalism. 

This has also resulted in a change for traditional media, as “Citizen media [gives] ideas to traditional media and traditional media [is] also able to develop those ideas to inform and to educate, which are two of the main objectives of traditional journalism” (Barnes 23). While there are downsides like credibility, one must have this in mind to critically examine the information they come across and what they choose to share. This space has overall widened the lens of news as “In order to get the complete story, it helps to have both points of view” (Barnes 17). Traditional journalism has been enriched by using elements of citizen journalism in its storytelling. Along with both traditional and citizen journalism on Twitter, users are able to form their own opinions by retweeting or liking content that they support. 

Twitter has changed the way the public receives their news for the better by offering different viewpoints for a fuller understanding, and by ultimately allowing them to be their own publishers. By being a democratic space, users on Twitter have the opportunity to educate themselves and others on current events to their fullest extent.

Works Cited:

Anderson, Monica et al. “#BlackLivesMatter surges on Twitter after George Floyd’s death.” Pew Research Center, Fact Tank, 10 June 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/06/10/blacklivesmatter-surges-on-twitter-after-george-floyds-death/ Accessed 16 Oct. 2020.

Barnes, Corinne. “Citizen Journalism vs. Traditional Journalism: A Case for Collaboration.” Caribbean Quarterly, vol. 58, no. 2/3, 2012, pp. 16–27. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41708775. Accessed 17 Oct. 2020.

Hauser, Christine, et al. “’I Can’t Breathe’: 4 Minneapolis Officers Fired After Black Man Dies in Custody.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 15 June 2020, www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/us/minneapolis-police-man-died.html. Accessed 16 Oct. 2020. (Bystander video link qtd. in Anderson) 

Mitchell, Amy et al. “Majorities of Americans Say News Coverage of George Floyd Protests Has Been Good, Trump’s Public Message Wrong” Pew Research Center, 12 June 2020, https://www.journalism.org/2020/06/12/majorities-of-americans-say-news-coverage-of-george-floyd-protests-has-been-good-trumps-public-message-wrong/. Accessed 16 Oct. 2020

“Officer in George Floyd Death Faces 2nd-Degree Murder Charge, Others Also Charged” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 4 June 2020, www.cbc.ca/news/world/floyd-officers-charges-1.5596812. Accessed 18 Oct. 2020. 

Perrin, Andrew. “23% of users in U.S. say social media led them to change views on an issue; some cite Black Lives Matter.” Pew Research Center, Fact Tank, 15 Oct 2020, https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/10/15/23-of-users-in-us-say-social-media-led-them-to-change-views-on-issue-some-cite-black-lives-matter/. Accessed 16 Oct. 2020. 

Rickford, Russell. “Black Lives Matter: Toward a Modern Practice of Mass Struggle.” New Labor Forum, vol. 25, no. 1, 2016, pp. 34–42. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/26419959. Accessed 17 Oct. 2020.

Twitter and the Presidential Election

Twitter is theoretically a social media platform where everyone is welcome, and everyone is heard. Anyone can set up an account and start creating their own personal cyberspace. Twitter has largely become a modern public square where users can share any view or belief as long as it is less than 140 characters. This has played a dramatic role in modern politics and public debate and has been especially used by President Donald Trump. President Trump uses Twitter as his prominent method of communication, and he has posted more than 11,000 tweets (Mcintire & Confessore, 2019). Twitter has many democratic functions such as allowing anyone to create an account, tweet, or retweet content that they deem to be relevant. These functions have led politicians to believe that the views expressed on Twitter are representative of the general population; however, the twitter population is not representative of the American public (Wojcik & Hughes, 2020). This paper will argue that Twitter has become a false representation of democracy because of the lack of representation of the American public among frequent tweeters, the creation of echo chambers within political discussions, and the presence of widespread misinformation.

            Twitter is not a democratic sphere because it is not representative of the American public. Democracy is a style of government that gives political control to the people by having a direct voice or an elected representative (Merriam-Webster, n.d.). Twitter would be a democratic sphere if the voices and views shared were equally representative of people from every geographic and socioeconomical realm, but a study by Pew Research shows that, “Twitter users are younger, more likely to identify as Democrats, more highly educated and have higher incomes than U.S. adults overall” (Wojcik & Hughes, 2020). This is only representing a small proportion of the U.S. population and is neglecting populations that are less educated, older, or have lower income levels. Politicians may lose sight of the actual views of their political ridings if they are too consumed with the views expressed on Twitter. Further, The Atlantic writes that many Twitter users engaged in politics are self-reported extremists that contribute to creating controversy among politicians (Mounk, 2019). These extremists bring attention to political debates they are invested in while taking attention away from other important matters. Mounk concludes that Twitter has failed to connect America’s elite to the ordinary people and has instead, “Amplified the beliefs of a small band of hyper-political partisans” (2019). Twitter is not a democratic sphere because it does not accurately represent views from the general American public.

            Twitter discourages open discussion by creating ‘echo chambers’ where users are prone to interact with only those who have similar opinions to their own. Constructive discussion operates as having two varying opinions being reviewed by both parties, and then a conclusion is reached with some level of compromise. Echo chambers operate differently by magnifying the current political views of users and only showing users tweets or retweets that are like their current beliefs (Yiu, 2020). Democracy was created to encourage political discussion and have opinions and beliefs represented from all people, but Twitter tends to polarize belief systems and create further division among belief groups (Yiu, 2020). C. Nguyen, a professor of philosophy, writes that, “Echo chambers isolate their members, not by cutting off their lines of communication to the world, but by changing whom they trust” (2019). This means that as Twitter users engage in political discussion, they become entangled in tweets and media that agree with their views and they become less trusting of anyone who has a different opinion. Twitter creates a lack of democracy by creating distrust and limiting the range of opinions and media that are exposed to users.

            Twitter is not a credible democratic sphere because of its tendency to magnify false news and misinformation. An intensive study by a group of researchers at MIT found that fake news and falsehoods were far more likely to spread than the truth (Vosoughi, Roy, & Aral, 2018). Falsehoods were 70% more likely to be retweeted than accurate news, and researchers wrote that false rumours would, “Reach more people, penetrate deeper into social networks, and spread much faster than accurate stories” (Vosoughi, Roy, & Aral, 2018). This creates conflict because if users are taking to Twitter as their source of news, they are far more likely to get something false than the truth. Twitter is addressing this for the upcoming presidential election by tightening their rules regarding retweets, monitoring pre-emptive victory claims, and banning political ads (BBC News, 2020). These actions have good intentions regarding the spread of false content; however, it does not address the fact that Twitter users gravitate towards fake news. Democracy was developed by the people to find the truth of what is best for the people, but Twitter is too good at captivating people with stories of fake news.

            Twitter is not a democratic social media platform because of its false representation of the American public, its creation of polarizing echo chambers, and its tendency to share fake news. The prevalence of Twitter in modern politics has enabled politicians and officials to be more accountable and accessible to voters; however, it has also allowed politicians to access data sets of analytics on potential voters to cater campaign marketing directly at their audience (Murse, 2019). This creates the potential to target Twitter users with political marketing and propaganda that is suited to their interests and may have influence on their voting decisions. Social media and the internet have allowed for the fast spread of news and ideas, but if modern politicians rely on Twitter for their representation of public opinion, they will fail to respond to the actual views of the people, they will obsess over fake news and political scandals, and they may end up forfeiting election (Mounk, 2019).

Works Cited

BBC News. (2020, October 09). US election: Twitter tightens rules on retweets and victory claims. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54485697

Mcintire, M., & Confessore, N. (2019, November 02). Trump’s Twitter Presidency: 9 Key Takeaways. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/02/us/trump-twitter-takeaways.html

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Democracy. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy

Mounk, Y. (2019, May 05). The Problem Isn’t Twitter. It’s That You Care About Twitter. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/04/political-leaders-should-stop-caring-about-twitter/588004/

Murse, T. (2019, August 29). Social Media in Politics – Twitter and Facebook as Campaigns Tools. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.thoughtco.com/how-social-media-has-changed-politics-3367534

Nguyen, C. T. (2019, October 31). The problem of living inside echo chambers. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://theconversation.com/the-problem-of-living-inside-echo-chambers-110486

Vosoughi, S., Roy, D., & Aral, S. (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science, 359(6380), 1146-1151. doi:10.1126/science.aap9559

Wojcik, S., & Hughes, A. (2020, May 30). How Twitter Users Compare to the General Public. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2019/04/24/sizing-up-twitter-users/

Yiu, Y. (2020, March 18). Visualizing Twitter Echo Chambers. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.insidescience.org/news/visualizing-twitter-echo-chambers

Process Post 11: Online Shaming

In Week 11’s class, we discussed online comments and online shaming, featuring Justine Sacco’s twitter post. It read: “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!” It went outrageous on the internet after her flight took off to Cape Town.

When we comment online, we usually don’t think much before posting. Unlike person-to-person dialogues, it doesn’t require immediate reaction. You can think about the perfect response or how to defend. It is unfortunate for Justine that she doesn’t even have the chance to defend herself as she was on a flight when her post spread like fire on Twitter. Her life was torn immediately; she lost her job, online shamed by other users. People who retweeted barely know Justine in person, but they can ruin her life in just several seconds with a click on the internet. This is how powerful social media can be.

We are afraid to make comments in real life, worrying that it may hurt the person’s feeling, not knowing what to react to others’ criticisms. However, when you see other users posting similar comments like yours in the online community, you feel like your opinion is backed. You can also post anonymously which seems you don’t have to take that much responsibility. Therefore, netizens teamed up and created a hashtag – #HasJustineLandedYet and online shamed Justine’s reckless tweet.

I then start to reflect my online behaviour. I think I’ve never online shamed anyone because I rarely comment on any social media platform. I know how fast words can spread on the internet and I didn’t want to online shame anyone or be online shamed, so I’ve always been kind of passive when coming to online activities. I am afraid to voice out any opinion online because I’m afraid people against my stance would judge me. I think the online community would only be more harmonious if people can learn how to respect others’ opinions even if they’re against you. Also, online users should think twice before making a comment, the impact could be more viral than you think.

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Vol. 11: Process Post

“Upload to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter”

This is the heart now of what people think promotion and marketing is all about. But is it really just posting on these websites? Does it require no skill, practice, or even knowledge to do these well?

I think nowadays what discerns a social media marketer and an amateur is their ability to get substantial reach. There are many methods in ways to get more views to your post, but it takes skill and knowledge to drive engagement. Being not in the realm of marketing at all in terms of my concentration (Accounting and Finance), I always found myself wondering how hard it is to make it big in the marketing world. To be a marketing consultant.. you have to be really, really good at it. It’s too hard nowadays to be a high-paying successful digital marketer, not unless you’re basically “god-tier” in all of marketing.

What I value in social media marketing is the thought process that people go through to do so. When people pay attention to the wording, how it will look like, who is the audience, and a million other variables, it makes me see how purposeful they are being. However, this more often than not, does not lead to greater reach of engagement. And so, I admire the resilience that these marketers have.

This brings me to say how the different social media mediums differ in terms of how people read information off of these. Yes, they all could have the same audience, but now there is an even added layer of complexity of how we read information on different mediums.

For Facebook, it’s usually a “click-bait” strategy, or the like. I know it sounds wrong, but that’s how specific articles or ads get my attention. I also notice the fact that it’s super hard to do this, because I am easy wary of fraud or not credible sources, so to get me interested and dig deeper, something’s gotta pop and pop with credibility.

For Twitter, you got to be short and sweet. This is where memes dominate on another level–everyone’s commenting on each others’ tweets, trying to one up them, or making it more funny. I would say humour works best on Twitter to get people’s attention, along with conciseness. We’re here to read short and sweet things, and one that makes us laugh!

For Instagram, it’s pretty obvious that visuals need to be used. I haven’t found that text does much of the dirty work to reel me in. This, in itself, is also very tricky since there is so much content on Instagram. The focus here is not just on wording alone anymore, but about how a picture is supposed to encapsulate 100+ word characters with a single shot. That’s pretty hard, but at least you know this is the focus for this medium.

All in all, whatever you choose to do in terms of social media, be purposeful in what it looks like on each medium. Even though you are attracting, or can be, a particular niche, it does not mean that they absorb information, words, or pictures the same on each medium.

’till next time, homies!

Process Post #9

A few weeks ago, I made a twitter for my blog, to post food that I probably won’t blog about. I have actually never really used Twitter on a regular basis. So far, I’ve only used Twitter to check about trendy shoes being released online, and occasionally post a tweet about food. I don’t really use twitter enough for it to be useful for my blog. That being said, I’m going to try to post more frequently, tweet about new blog posts and tweet about food events going on in Vancouver. 

The reason why I made a Twitter account for my blog was because I thought I already had  too many Instagram accounts to manage (I had two), but I realized that I use Instagram very often and that it’s more appropriate for a food blog, rather than Twitter. So I finally made a food Instagram! And it’s turning out better than I expected. All of the posts are pictures of food from my phone that I didn’t get the chance to blog about (because of picture quality and how long ago those meals were). I love how quick and easy it is to edit and post on Instagram. And the pictures actually look great, since it’s a mobile app the pictures are small.

I know now that the channel I should be focusing on is Instagram, because of Google Analytics. I already learned that a lot of referrals for my blog come from Instagram. Food pictures on Instagram also seem to be very popular.

Another channel I could be using is Facebook. But as a person who opens Facebook on an almost hourly bases, I don’t post very much, I don’t even share on my timeline. I’m one of those people who scroll to see relevant news and to tag my friends in memes. I also don’t follow public figures on Facebook, especially food vloggers, so I don’t think that many people would follow my Facebook page if I created one.

One thing I’m definitely going to start doing is linking my social media posts to my blog, so it’s like re-marketing. For instance, if someone started following my social media through my blog, they’ll go back to my blog when they see my social media posts refer to a blog post.

Transmedia Integration

I plan to get involved with Twitter and really actively use the app as a way to promote and share my blog. Twitter is known for the popular usage of hashtags and I plan on taking advantage of this so my readers can engage with me. If I have a big following in the future, I will pick a hashtag specifically used for blog and I will use it consistently and have my readers use it consistently. Something like…#berightback? If my readers have something to say about my posts, they can take it to Twitter and use the hashtag with it, that way I am able to gather all the posts related to my blog. Another interactive way to engage with my readers is having a Q&A session where people can tweet me questions regarding my blog, my travels, or my personal life using a set hashtag…something like #AskBRB? Then I would proceed to answer those questions and have them posted onto my blog. That way I can have people jump between Twitter and my blog and maybe have new followers to my blog coming from Twitter. Obviously, hashtags can be used on almost all social media platforms, so not only will Twitter be beneficial to me, Instagram can be too. Since my blog focuses more on travels, I think pictures would really compliment my blog and I can display them on Twitter or Instagram with direct links to my blog posts. I can also use Twitter as a way to have my readers anticipate my next blog post, with update tweets of when I am about to publish a new post. But in a way, I feel like I can only do this if I have a following, but I won’t even get a following if I don’t incorporate some kind of transmedia integration.