I would like you all to think about the question I am about to ask, what’s social media? Is it a news outlet? A way to attach yourself with friends? Well, both answers that were stated aren’t really wrong; however, it can most definitely be defined as an influence to our society thanks to its ability to attach people across the world. Studies show that in 2019, there have been 3.5 billion social media users worldwide, and growing, which equates to about 45% of the present population. This exact fact also means social media can influence about 45% of the earth’s population with its messages or posts. Albeit, there are many popular social media platforms to use lately, the one which will be getting discussed today is Twitter.
What’s Twitter? Well, Twitter is one among the most important social media platforms to use and it works by letting its users post messages online for people to discover. You can do things like press the like button on somebody else’s message and if you really enjoy a message from someone else, it gives you the feature of resending that message for more people to discover what he or she said. On Twitter, the messages even have a unique name to them called “tweets” and resending someone else’s message is called a “retweet”. Twitter also can have an influence and may be used as a platform to shout out support. Twitter has shown support to several topics which include the LGBT community and COVID-19 efforts; however, their recent gesture of support was directed at the black community. Recently, people all across the world were outraged by the killing of George Floyd and demanded justice for the policemen who killed him. This unfortunate event led to an outburst within the Black Lives Matter movement with more Americans showing their support to the cause. The Black Lives Matter movement is a movement that fights for equality and racial justice for the African-American people. Like Instagram, Facebook, and a plethora of other social media platforms, Twitter has also shown their support to the Black Lives Matter movement. Not only did the platform, Twitter show its support, but also, their users showed an enormous amount of support also. Although there are less people using Twitter than other social media platforms, Twitter still served as a major influence within the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Twitter used its hashtags and community to be used as a medium within the Black Lives Matter movement. Twitter’s community includes all kinds of individuals as shown in Ying Lin blog about Twitter stated, “Instagram and Snapchat may have snapped up the young demographic, but Twitter has its own crowd to appeal to. Approximately six of each 10 (63%) Twitter users worldwide are between 35 and 65 years old (theVAB, 2018)”. In 2014, an African-American teen named Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson by a Caucasian, middle aged policeman named Darren Wilson. Michael Brown was stopped on the streets of Ferguson by Darren Wilson, who said that Michael Brown attacked him and that he feared for his life after a struggle occured; however, other witnesses were saying that Wilson shot Michael Brown while Brown had his hands up. Either or, Wilson shot an unarmed black teenager and left his body on the streets of Ferguson which also led to an eruption within the Black Lives Matter movement, with many Americans either rioting or protesting. In Meredith Bennett-Swanson’s ‘Media Coverage of Black Lives Matter, she states, “In 2014, events in Ferguson, Missouri were discussed so frequently on social media that #Ferguson became the most-tweeted hashtag in what was then Twitter’s ten-year history. After Brown’s shooting, political activists added the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) to #Ferguson tweets, and it became the third most-tweeted hashtag within the same time span” (98). This quote shows that, albeit Twitter itself isn’t as big as maybe Instagram or Facebook, it still can function as a medium to people by its hashtags that spread awareness around the community. Also, in line with Jelani Ince, Fabio Rojas and Clayton A. Davis’ journal, ‘The social media response to Black Lives Matter: how Twitter users interact with Black Lives Matter through hashtag use’, they state, “We found that Twitter users were most likely to convey approval of the movement and assert their solidarity. As #BlackLivesMatter developed in 2014, there have been more mentions of specific tactics and a corresponding decrease within the discussion of events like Ferguson or police shootings” (1827). This tells us that the users of Twitter all shared a standard goal of supporting the movement and even approved of the movement by also sending out #BlackLivesMatter hashtags. This also means Twitter users continue to use the hashtag of BlackLivesMatter to extend the quantity of awareness on social media. the simplest example of this is on a twitter account of the username, @MonicaRAnders, telling everyone that after the Michael Brown shooting, the quantity of #BlackLivesMatter hashtags accelerated. She stated, “The use of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag accelerated following the shooting death of Michael Brown – from a 2016 @pewresearch analysis http://pewrsr.ch/2b8TX8V #Ferguson”. Therefore, this insight not only tells us all that the hashtags spread to other users, but also, it accelerates in trend making people around the community more observant about the subject.
Twitter gave updates and knowledge about the difficulty to its users and gave out charitable donations to non-profit organizations to function as a medium to the Black Lives Matter movement. Not only did Twitter give out information about the present topic, but also, made it easier for other users on the platform to connect with one another, because of Twitter’s usefulness in both of its protesting and organizing. W. Carson Byrd, Keon L. Gilbert and Joseph B Richardson, Jr in their journal, ‘The vitality of social media for establishing a research agenda on black lives and the movement’, stated, “Twitter, especially, is beneficial in both organizing and protesting in addition to research pursuits. Users can distinguish themselves from other users by classifying their tweets (i.e. messages composed of 140 characters) by hashtags, which permits users to unite with others in pinpointing social issues within communities in efforts of solidarity and collective action” (1873). This quote tells you all that Twitter’s usefulness in organizing, protesting, and research pursuits helps their users connect with other users to seek out social issues around their circle in order that they can take action. Also, in line with W. Carson Byrd, Keon L. Gilbert and Joseph B Richardson, Jr, they state, “Social media sites like the Washington Post and the Guardian (The Counted) on Twitter have provided real-time data on police-involved homicides, particularly shootings that might be impossible to trace using traditional data sources like the UCR (Uniform Crime Reporting). In fact, the Director of the FBI, James Comey, and former U.S. Attorney Generals, Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, have criticized the Department of Justice (DOJ) for its inability to record and report police-involved shootings in real time in novel ways” (1874). This here proves to us that Twitter can provide better information to its users about a topic making Twitter an informative place to travel to once you need an update on a current situation. Alongside informing their users, Kevin Roose of the New York Times states, “A similar show of support unfolded at Twitter, where the corporation changed its official Twitter bio to a Black Lives Matter tribute, and Jack Dorsey, the chief executive, pledged $3 million to an anti-racism organization started by Colin Kaepernick, the previous N.F.L. quarterback”. This action proves to us all that not only is Twitter’s platform acting out as an agent of knowledge and awareness to its users, but also, it’s financially helping the African-American community.
As you all see, Twitter is often utilized in a variety of options, whether it’s to connect with your friends, to inform people, or to unite together as a community. We discussed the functions of Twitter and the way it works, alongside all the essential features you’ll be able to use to tweet, retweet, or post. We mainly talked about how Twitter can function as an enormous influence to the Black Lives Matter movement by using its hashtags and community, and by giving out updates and knowledge about the dilemma to its users, making their users more informed on the subject. From informing its users to connecting a community with a standard goal at hand, it’s most definite that Twitter served as an immense influence within the Black Lives Matter movement and served as a medium to its users.