The rise of Twitter as a world platform for dialog : NPR

a photograph illustration reveals the reactivated Twitter profile of former US President Donald Trump. Elon Musk reinstated him on the social media platform on November 19, 2022.

Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA photographs/Lightrocket through Getty photographs

conceal caption

toggle caption

Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA photographs/Lightrocket through Getty photographs

a photograph illustration reveals the reactivated Twitter profile of former US President Donald Trump. Elon Musk reinstated him on the social media platform on November 19, 2022.

Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA photographs/Lightrocket through Getty photographs

Billionaire Elon Musk has owned Twitter for decrease than a month. however one factor is evident: it would by no means be the identical social community that the world has come to know over almost 20 years.

Musk has made radical selections, seemingly single-handedly, similar to promoting blue verification checkmarks and reinstating accounts that had been banned for breaking Twitter’s guidelines in direction of violent or offensive speech, collectively with that of former President Donald Trump. prolonged-time clients and advertisers are fleeing.

whether or not the agency survives the current chaos or not, the historic previous of tweeting reveals simply how vital the platform has been since co-founder Jack Dorsey transmitted the very first message on March 21, 2006.

“There actually is not any fully different place the place you will be any widespread particular person with no political power, no monetary power, and but you most likely can story-inform using textual content material, picture and audio, you most likely can hyperlink up and work together with of us domestically and globally round a draw again, after which you positively probably can receive your historic previous and understand how all of this occurred,” mentioned Desmond Upton Patton, a professor of social coverage, communications and psychiatry on the college of Pennsylvania who research Twitter. “that is actually great.”

Social actions and Political Causes

over time, Twitter has helped to provoke a massive 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-primarily 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 computer software to unfold ideas and incite of us to movement:

“Jack Dorsey’s tweet is unquestionably one factor that stands out,” mentioned Gardner. “i believed that was solely an great tweet as a outcome of that is precisely what Twitter has accomplished.”

The platform has been very influential overseas, with round eighty p.c of clients residing outdoors of the U.S. larger than a decade in the past, Twitter turned a strong computer software for sharing knowledge and reflections regarding the protests occurring in Egypt and past all through the Arab Spring.

And nearer to dwelling, tweeting helped provoke hundreds of 1000’s of of us inside the wake of George Floyd’s homicide on might 25, 2020, with of us sharing their anger and anguish using hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #JusticeForGeorge. information platforms used Twitter to report on the unfolding occasions.

Presidential Megaphone

quickly after Twitter turned a “factor,” some elected officers additionally started to see the platform as a useful possibility to understand of us.

“Barack Obama was actually the essential social media head of state,” mentioned Gardner of the earlier President. “It was ensuing from him that nations obtained on board, and of us started talking with every fully different on-line.”

however it was Obama’s successor who took tweeting to an whole new diploma. Gardner mentioned Trump’s maintain on Twitter modified the face of politics.

“Trump is almost like a quarterback, and what he was doing was throwing the ball over to his large receivers, which is very people who had been receptive to his particular message or stance,” Gardner mentioned. “So it is in all likelihood not one tweet with Trump. in case you look again at it, it is in all likelihood 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.

A tweet despatched out by Donald Trump on January 6, captured by UC Santa Barbara’s American Presidency undertaking.

UC Santa Barbara American Presidency undertaking

conceal caption

toggle caption

UC Santa Barbara American Presidency undertaking

Trump has not but jumped again on since Musk reinstated his account on Nov. 19.

Twitter’s Lighter side

For the college of Pennsylvania’s Patton, Twitter has always been a spot to share a joke and a spot to start a riot. He factors to Black Twitter as a supply of pleasure and resilience, particularly all through the journey season.

“the holidays could make for an superior time for dealing with relations,” mentioned Patton. “Black Twitter can take a problematic second and swap it proper into a pleasurable meme or a pleasurable joke with which everyone can resonate.”

however Patton reacted strongly to Musk’s takeover of Twitter — a sense shared by many after the mannequin new proprietor despatched out a tweet on Oct. 26 saying, in esoteric vogue, his presence on the agency’s San Francisco headquarters.

“Twitter has factors that should be mounted, nonetheless the computer software has extra hope and potential than negativity,” Patton mentioned. “It simply seems like a wasted alternative for Twitter to basically do some good on the earth.”