Twitter actions and their real life consequences
Because it is so easy to send out a tweet, Twitter has fast become one of the most immediate forms of social media on the planet, but what does this mean for the state of online communication?
Twitter is often at the center of controversy when its comes to questionable comments posted on the social media site. A random celebrity may go on a "Twitter rant" in which he or she says a series of controversial comments that turn the heads of followers and paparazzi alike. In other instances, someone in a high corporate position, like Justine Sacco who Tweeted a racist comment about South Africa, which quickly inspired outrage among users across the social media outlet.
Despite the numerous cases of people tweeting something they later regret, it still continues to happen. But why is this case? There is a sort of spontaneous urge that Twitter lends itself to, that can often get people in trouble. However, how people respond to these instances can also stir up controversy as well.
Twitter as a game
Padraig Reidy, writing for the Index on Censorship, shared his experience with Twitter and how a single post can gain such traction. He noted that Twitter can be viewed as a sort of game – one of the largest online multiplayer games in the world. Its also one, that is seemingly unending.
"Twitter users are engaged in a massive game, possibly without end," he writes. "We measure the success of individual moves (tweets) with retweets and favourites: keep pulling off these successful moves, and we can see our scores go up, in terms of followers accumulated."
This, he argues, is one of the main draws to the urge to spontaneously post, and the more eye catching the tweet is, the better one does in the game. However, this allure can lead Twitter users to make statements that are distasteful. Reidy points to a recent tweet from a 14-year old Dutch girl who claimed she was a member of Al Qaeda and threatened to do something to an American Airlines flight.
The tweet was distasteful and in her mind a joke. While it certainly garnered attention on Twitter its real life implications were much more severe. Though it is likely that she meant nothing by it, it shows how these actions of the Twitter "game" have real life consequences. Unfortunately, these consequences can be taken to the same extremes as the statements themselves.
Reacting to Twitter
One of the most severe reactions to Twitter as of late was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's attempt to block the social media site in the country. Following leaks on Twitter and YouTube implicating the government official in a corruption scandal, he blocked the website. While a court order lifted the ban, it highlights just how strong reactions can be to something posted on the site.
Despite the attempted ban, Turkey is now looking to to help the company open an office within the country, according to Al Jazeera. The government's Communication Minister Lutfi Elvan said that the office could help the company better coordinate with Internet policies within the country. One of the actions the government plans to take is pixelating content it deems inappropriate.
This sort of back tracking shows that the value that Twitter and social media as a whole can play for a country and the its economy, even if it can be used in the way that is displeasing. Though the Twitter game has real life implications, it is one that has been able to make a difference in many places around the world. As a result, governments need to find a way to