The Power of Twitter

 

Twitter turned seven last July. It’s younger than its social media rival, (yes, that one) but it’s not worth comparing to Zuckerberg’s behemoth because the site is a different beast. Twitter has still not yet found its own unique taboo; whilst sharing your life on Facebook is now ‘uncool’ or something to that effect, Twitter’s call to action is in the name, you tweet on the thing.

“The SMS of the internet”

Business Standard originally called it that, whilst simultaneously showing its age in this brave new world. BS’s (ho ho) analogy relates to the length of status updates, 140 characters in which to make your point, but you can also attach a link or a picture. The flaw in the ‘SMS’ comparison is that the messages sent out onto twitter can be sent to millions at a time; When comedian Russell Howard tweets something, nearly 900,000 people get the message, and this is how we live today.

It’s a quote. Put in the simplest terms, a gigantic list of things that people have said. Not out loud, of course, but decidedly worded as to stand by them on the record. In November, Nokia New Zealand’s social media team tweeted ‘Fuck you’ to its followers, and that record is etched into the web along with everything else, forever.

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Politicians use it. The distance between the lectern and the mobile phone will never be accurately represented in press terms, but for now we must only know that as usual, if it feel strange to read a tweet from David Cameron, it’s probably because it is strange. Moreover, whoever takes the reigns of the PM’s social media accounts is almost certainly not him, and the turnover is likely massive.

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The police use the damn thing to implicate people. It’s not quite dangerous yet, but keep your eye on it, because it could end you if you work in public relations. An internationally broadcasted stream of consciousness is a dangerous commodity for people who like to play with fire.

We cannot use tweets as any credible evidence of accountability, the length is constrained, and this dilutes, or rather circumcises the full effect of what was intended. The celebrity with the particularly hectic schedule has no time for social networking, and therefore ‘experts’ are give control of the accounts, leading to further unreliability. Nonetheless, thousands of articles the very same length as this one have focused around a single tweet sent out into the cybernetic stratosphere by a team of trusted press representatives.

In 2014, Twitter itself faces a new struggle, as one day in the fall of 2013, higher-ups woke up to see stock prices in its child falling through the floor, after the ‘bright idea’ to list the company on the New York Stock Exchange back in November. The company’s reaction as of this moment is to sell off more and more of its interface, with users seeing advertising space on their dashboard growing over time, with increasing irrelevancy.

This, of course, has no immediate relevance to how we the public will use the site, it remains as the number one way to update an entire following, if you have one. Due to the strength of its numbers, it will likely remain this way for a very, very long time indeed, because jumping ship is not for everyone.

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