First, Things I Dislike…
A feature of Twitter that irks me the most is the character limit. Currently, tweets have a maximum of 140 characters, with the limit being even more onerous in the past. Until September 2016, Twitter had an even more stringent character limit, with photos, videos, GIFs, polls, and quote tweets all counting towards the character count. In my opinion, the brevity of tweets limits the depth of discourse. Character limits do make Twitter a unique platform, but I wish it was closer to 300 characters instead of the current 140 character limit. In my opinion, character limits stifle substantive discussion. Twitter interactions regarding politics for example are reduced greatly. The perspective of the other is unfortunately diminished as well-articulated opinions cannot be sufficiently expressed.
An additional criticism I have of Twitter stems from my encounters with spam bot accounts. A recent report by the University of Southern California found that somewhere between “…9 to 15 percent of Twitter accounts on the microblogging website are so-called bots controlled by software instead of humans.” In a study period between 9/16/2016 to 10/21/2016, bot accounts were shown to have produced 3.8 million tweets, or 19 percent of all election tweets for that period. The prevalence of these accounts are both annoying and alarming. Retweets by fake accounts of a particular political tweet for instance can give the tweet and thus the message more credibility. I hope Twitter can work to fix this problem.
An aspect of Twitter and SNS’s that worries me is the ease by which fake news can spread. The anonymity of the site leads to the publishing and pushing of information that can be intentionally false or misleading. For so many Americans social media has become a primary source of news. This dependence is acute and can lead to the distortion of facts. Currently, 62% of Americans get news from SNS’s. Twitter should follow Facebook’s lead and implement a flagging mechanism for fake news.
@Paul_S_G // Paul
I started my “personal Twitter” in February of 2012. Through it, I have met many incredible people and thinkers who I otherwise would not have encountered on sites like Facebook. I use this particular account to both follow the news and share a liberal perspective to my friends from back home in Texas. My role amongst my high school friends has turned to unofficial fact checker. Many of them share erroneous tweets and conspiracies from Breitbart and other right-wing sites that portray false narratives. I tweet to challenge them. From my class account, I have enjoyed interacting with my classmates and professor. From them, I have learned new bits of information and have seen their interests. For example, Hunter and I share different points of view when it comes to politics. But, I have learned from his divergent tweets and appreciated his perspective. Respectful interactions benefit both parties involved as they healthily challenge ingrained notions.
I will certainly continue my use of Twitter. Before this class started, I was running two anonymous accounts as well as my own personal account. With our Speech 26 class Twitter, I am now up to four accounts. I use and enjoy Twitter because it connects me to people from different geographies. I think the ability to bridge people together is one of the great strengths of an SNS like Twitter. Baym highlights the concept of “shared practice,” which functions as another tie to bring people together. She sees these communities as forming through, “habitual and usually unconscious practices — routinized behaviors — that group members share (86). This is an important element that will continue to bring me closer with thoughtful users. Baym’s writings on SNS’s facilitating communities, networks, and relationships match the experience in my own life and use of Twitter.
Additionally, Twitter is where news breaks. In a year where it is important to stay diligent and vocal regarding politics, sites like Twitter are necessary for amplifying the opinions of resistance and informing the public of political misdoings. Twitter in my opinion affords the public the ability to act as a check on the Executive and Legislative branches. This is an important component in politics of our day, and SNS’s will be instrumental in molding policymaking decisions.
I am Bad At…
I am particularly awful at expressing my opinions and ideas concisely. Character limits challenge me.
My Twitter List: The Dream Team
Brendan Nyhan is a Dartmouth political science professor & @UpshotNYT contributor. He has right around 50,000 followers. He is an active tweeter who focuses on the phenomenon of fake news and the implications of it on our society and democracy. He is not an ideologue, which is refreshing to see. I have really come to appreciate his tweets, as they keep me up to date.
Following Ben, a New Hampshire political connoisseur, keeps me in the loop on local politics. In working for the NH Governor, most of his tweets relate to state politics and the policy initiatives of the Governor’s office. Ben is active in shaping debate around political matters and tweets under the hashtag #NHPolitics.
Jon Favreau is a political commentator who used to serve as President Obama’s director of speechwriting. I started following his account during the 2016 primary season as he articulated Democrat messaging effectively in his tweets (being a former Presidential speechwriter and all). My following of his account led me to his podcast, Pod Save America. I now listen to his segments with regularity.
This account is a satirical account that plays to my imagination and humorously envisions what a Hillary Clinton presidency would have looked like. I check this account for a good laugh and for when I need to escape President Trump’s misstep of the day.
Some of the tweets:
DAY 49: Locked up Flynn. Told Ryan he’s not a fucking “policy wonk.” Sent Bill to Rose’s Luxury for a plate of rigatoni.
DAY 48: Haven’t employed a foreign agent. Made GOP congressmen pay for women’s reproductive care. Sent Bill to Auntie Anne’s for a pretzel.
DAY 46: Proposed healthcare expansions. Told Lady Liberty she could take the night off. Sent Bill to Dolcezza for stracciatella gelato.
Chad Griffin is the current President of the Human Rights Campaign, which is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality. I follow him to keep up to date on challenges and triumphs of the LGBT community. The focus of his tweets are legislative updates.
Ben Silverstein is the digital director of J Street. J Street is an organization that I am a member of, as it pushes for an end to the Arab–Israeli and Israel–Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. His tweets keep me tuned to the challenges on the ground in Israel/Palestine as well as legislative challenges on Capitol Hill. Ben does a fantastic job at reporting on tough topics like anti-Semitic attacks in the United States and globally.
Peter Daou is a war survivor from the Lebanese Civil War who worked as a political advisor to both John Kerry and Hillary Clinton during their respective campaigns. In the past, he has crafted digital strategies for the UN Foundation, Department of Energy, and Bloomberg Philanthropies. He is a prominent political blogger in today’s landscape.
Ilan Goldenberg is the Middle East Security Director at CNAS. His past work rotated him through the State Department, Pentagon, and Capitol Hill. I follow him to know the latest on political issues from Iran to Israel. Additionally, he tweets about Russian strategy in the region.
Ana Navarro is a Twitter ace in my honest and humble opinion. She is a #NeverTrump Republican who has been vocal in leading GOP resistance to Trump. Her tweets are humorous, personal, and pointed. One of my favorite tweets from her stemmed from a situation where it was reported that Jared Kushner complained to the Time Warner bosses about unfair Trump coverage on CNN. Navarro tweeted: “Really, Little Jared complaining about me cuz I get under President Daddy-in-Law’s skin? Oh, baby boy, I’m so sorry. Little boy Kushner, tough guy who’s supposed to achieve Middle East peace, is complaining about me to CNN. Boo-hoo!”
Jake Tapper is a Dartmouth alumni and CNN host who tweets about American and global politics. In the past month, he has become a target of the alt-right as he is tough on air when Trump aides appear on his show. The alt-right started a hashtag #TapperDirtFile to come up with information against him. His humorous responses to the tag turned the hashtag against them:
Baym, K. Nancy. Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2015. Print.
Bolter, J. David, and Richard A. Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1999. Web.
Bruns, Axel. “Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life, and Beyond: From Production to Produsage.” New York: Peter Lang, 2009. Print.
Martinez, Peter. “Study Reveals Whopping 48M Twitter Accounts Are Actually Bots.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 10 Mar. 2017, www.cbsnews.com/news/48-million-twitter-accounts-bots-university-of-southern-california-study/.