Reading Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas, was an enlightening experience! Her book on social media as a platform for activism and the building of communities, juxtapositions “the good, the bad, and the ugly” of using websites such as Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, (and you name it) as places that are on one side great for communication and getting the word out, but on the other oppressive, threatening, censored and uncensored.
First, I will like to acknowledge that reading about twitter has opened up a new “need for twitter in my life”. I am not really big on the use of social media, I have a Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram, but I rarely go on them. At most I have 20 pictures in those platforms and maybe 100 friends on them which is rare for a person my age. This used to not be the case though, since when I was younger I used to post lots of pictures in Facebook and had over a thousand friends. What changed, was me seeing that my pictures were filled with likes and weird comments of people I had no idea about. Some of them even tried to direct message me and I was creeped out by it and so I decided to delete my accounts, make new ones and only accept people I knew. This brought a great peace of mind, and since I have opted to just be “anti-social-media.” Yet recently, my 14 year old little sister, has been coming home telling me the news and what is going on around the world, information that I have to read about in news articles which I have to physically look for. So I asked her, where do you get all this info from? (You might not be surprised but) she said, Twitter.
After reading this book, I will most likely be getting a twitter since I feel the need to be participant of one of these communities Zeynep Tufekci talks about. Perhaps, I want to experience first-hand what it is like to engage in meaningful conversations and discussions online about topics I am passionate about and make my (very soft spoken) voice heard. Following activists and providing my support to their causes, even if it is just providing more views or attention to them can have a great impact on helping them get their word out. This way, twitter or facebook has one more person battling their oppressive algorithms allowing others and my friends know about what is really going on. Not only that, I want to come first with the news to my sister for once.
Being active on social media also comes with bad repercussions. Obviously, the whole world is not going to agree with all you say. Yet, reading about the many activists who have been threatened on social media is scary and further proves their bravery on speaking out and standing up for what they believe in. The “bad” censorship, on social media is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed by these platforms, as they cannot keep allowing users to be toxic towards others and attack others emotional and mental state of being.
Reading about some of the cases on the building of certain community roles and rules like the one about Reddit was disturbing. Likewise, the case of Amina, who faked her identity putting many people in danger, it shows the very ugly side of what social media can create. The people involved in cases like these don’t have any regard for the safety of others and repercussions their actions might take. They are merely driven by disturbing thoughts and an agenda that only benefits them. The feeling of having power and a reputation you have to live up to amongst those who follow you can have this negative effect specially if you feel like you are protected by a platform who will not do anything to you, or anonymity that shields you receiving any kind of backlash on what you say or do.
Any recommendations on who I should follow on twitter?