Advertisement

Twitter: More than 140 Characters

  • Stephen R. Barnard
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter provides a comprehensive review of Twitter and a reflection on its contemporary significance for journalism, politics, and culture. In addition to summarizing the nuts and bolts of Twitter as a social network, this chapter offers a brief history of Twitter as a media company. It considers the enduring question, “What is Twitter for?” This double entendre emphasizes the significance of the company’s operating principles as well as the platform’s technological affordances. These issues are further examined through recent controversies, including the uses of the platform to market products, spark activist campaigns, engage in bullying, as well as to spread hatred and “fake news.” After laying this important groundwork, the chapter concludes with a brief discussion of Twitter’s significance within the field of American journalism.

Keywords

Twitter Technology Platform Technological affordances Social construction Journalism 

References

  1. About. (2017). Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://about.twitter.com/company.
  2. Adamic, L. A., & Glance, N. (2005). The political blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. election: Divided they blog. Presented at the Proceedings of the 3rd international workshop on Link discovery, ACM. https://doi.org/10.1145/1134271.1134277.
  3. Alexander, J. C. (2015). The crisis of journalism reconsidered: Cultural power. Fudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences, 8(1), 9–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40647-014-0056-5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrews, T. M. (2016, November 16). “A great purge?”: Twitter suspends Richard Spencer, other prominent alt-right accounts. Washington Post. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/11/16/a-great-purge-twitter-suspends-richard-spencer-other-prominent-alt-right-accounts/.
  5. Angwin, J. (2017, November 9). Cheap tricks: The low cost of internet harassment. ProPublica. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://www.propublica.org/article/cheap-tricks-the-low-cost-of-internet-harassment.
  6. Barnard, S. (2016). Digital sociology’s vocational promise. In J. Daniels, K. Gregory, & T. McMillan Cottom (Eds.), Digital sociologies (pp. 195–210). Bristol: Policy Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Barthel, M., Shearer, E., Gottfried, J., & Mitchell, A. (2015, July 14). The evolving role of news on Twitter and Facebook. Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from http://www.journalism.org/2015/07/14/the-evolving-role-of-news-on-twitter-and-facebook/.
  8. Bilton, N. (2013). Hatching Twitter: A true story of money, power, friendship, and betrayal. New York, NY: Portfolio.Google Scholar
  9. Blackbirds, T. (2014, December 9). #BlackLivesMatterpic.twitter.com/lgWjqtfkUe [Tweet]. Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://twitter.com/blackbirds/status/540700339192598528.
  10. Bogle, A. (2016, November 15). Guess which gender is more likely to be verified on Twitter? We’ll wait. Mashable. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://mashable.com/2016/11/15/twitter-verification-women-men/.
  11. Bruns, A., & Moe, H. (2014). Structural layers of communication on Twitter. In K. Weller, A. Bruns, J. Burgess, M. Mahrt, & C. Puschmann (Eds.), Twitter and society (pp. 15–28). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  12. Bump, P. (2017, August 17). Analysis: Now you can see what Donald Trump sees every time he opens Twitter. Washington Post. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/08/17/now-you-can-see-what-donald-trump-sees-every-time-he-opens-twitter/.
  13. Carlson, M., & Lewis, S. C. (Eds.). (2015). Boundaries of journalism: Professionalism, practices and participation. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  14. Celebrating a new year with a new tweet record. (2011, January 6). Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/a/2011/celebrating-a-new-year-with-a-new-tweet-record.html.
  15. Crowell, C. (2017a, May 3). #PressFreedom 2017. Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/events/2017/-pressfreedom-2017.html.
  16. Crowell, C. (2017b, June 14). Our approach to bots & misinformation. Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/company/2017/Our-Approach-Bots-Misinformation.html.
  17. Culbertson, L. (2017, July 11). Join the fight for #NetNeutrality. Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/company/2017/Join-the-Fight-for-NetNeutrality.html.
  18. Davis, J. L., & Chouinard, J. B. (2017). Theorizing affordances: From request to refuse. Bulletin of Science, Technology & Society, 36(4), 241–248. https://doi.org/10.1177/0270467617714944.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Deathvies, A. (2017). ‘The things you don’t know, now’—@Twitter is actively marketing itself off fear of what Trump is tweeting. Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://twitter.com/outstandy/status/914639977102938113.
  20. Dewey, C. (2014, March 3). Ellen DeGeneres’ Oscar selfie broke Twitter, and world records. Washington Post. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2014/03/03/ellen-degeneres-oscar-selfie-broke-twitter-and-world-records/.
  21. Dijck, J. v. (2013). The culture of connectivity: A critical history of social media. Oxford: New York.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dorsey, J. (2006). twttr sketch [Photo]. Flickr. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jackdorsey/182613360/.
  23. Duggan, M. (2015). The demographics of social media users. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/the-demographics-of-social-media-users/.
  24. Earl, J., & Kimport, K. (2011). Digitally enabled social change: Activism in the Internet age. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Earle, S. (2017, October 14). How social media is being used by governments to settle scores and silence critics. Newsweek. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.newsweek.com/trolls-bots-and-fake-news-dark-and-mysterious-world-social-media-manipulation-682155.
  26. Extremist Content and Russian Disinformation Online: Working with Tech to Find Solutions. (2017). Senate, 115th Congress, Testimony of Sean Edgett. Retrieved October 16, 2017, from https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/extremist-content-and-russian-disinformation-online-working-with-tech-to-find-solutions.
  27. Fritz, J. (2014). How nonprofits use LinkedIn. About.com Money. Retrieved July 30, 2015, from http://nonprofit.about.com/od/socialmedia/a/Tips-For-Using-Linkedin-For-Nonprofits.htm.
  28. Gans, H. J. (2007). Everyday news, newsworkers, and professional Journalism. Political Communication, 24(2), 161–166. https://doi.org/10.1080/10584600701312878.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Greenwood, S., Perrin, A., & Duggan, M. (2016, November 11). Social media update 2016. Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/.
  30. Halavais, A. (2014). Structure of Twitter: Social and technical. In K. Weller, A. Bruns, J. Burgess, N. Mahrt, & C. Puschmann (Eds.), Twitter and society (pp. 29–41). New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  31. Hanusch, F. (2017). Political journalists’ corporate and personal identities on Twitter profile pages: A comparative analysis in four Westminster democracies. New Media & Society. Advance online publication.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444817698479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hashtag: #Journalism redefined [Session 1] [VideoCast]. (2013, September 20). University of Denver Videocast. Retrieved November 19, 2017, from http://videocast.du.edu/video/hashtag-journalism-redefined---session-1.
  33. Hedman, U. (2015). J-Tweeters. Digital Journalism, 3(2), 279–297. https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2014.897833.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hennelly, R. (2015, September 1). Does Twitter’s reset on race and gender go far enough? CBS News. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/does-twitters-reset-on-race-and-gender-go-far-enough/.
  35. Hermida, A. (2010). Twittering the news. Journalism Practice, 4(3), 297–308. https://doi.org/10.1080/17512781003640703.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hermida, A., Lewis, S. C., & Zamith, R. (2014). Sourcing the Arab Spring: A case study of Andy Carvin’s sources on Twitter during the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(3), 479–499. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcc4.12074.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Himelboim, I., Sweetser, K. D., Tinkham, S. F., Cameron, K., Danelo, M., & West, K. (2016). Valence-based homophily on Twitter: Network analysis of emotions and political talk in the 2012 presidential election. New Media & Society, 18(7), 1382–1400. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444814555096.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Ho, E. (2017, March 1). Our latest update on safety. Twitter. Retrieved October 11, 2017, from https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/product/2017/our-latest-update-on-safety.html.
  39. Isaac, M., & Wakabayashi, D. (2017, November 3). Twitter’s panic after Trump’s account is deleted caps a rough week. The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/03/technology/trump-twitter-deleted.html.
  40. Jaffa, V. (2016, August 15). Twitter’s new verification process is a game rigged against its marginalized users. Model View Culture. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://modelviewculture.com/pieces/twitters-new-verification-process-is-a-game-rigged-against-its-marginalized-users.
  41. Kidd, D. (2017). Social media freaks. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  42. Kottasova, I. (2016, December 6). Twitter reveals the top tweeted events of 2016. CNN Money. Retrieved October 18, 2017, from http://money.cnn.com/2016/12/06/technology/twitter-top-events-hashtags-2016/index.html.
  43. Krause, M. (2011). Reporting and the transformations of the journalistic field: US news media, 1890–2000. Media, Culture & Society, 33(1), 89–104.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0163443710385502.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kravets, D. (2012). Twitter reluctantly coughs up occupy protester’s data. Wired. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.wired.com/2012/09/twitter-occupy-data/.
  45. Lasorsa, D. L., Lewis, S. C., & Holton, A. E. (2012). Normalizing Twitter. Journalism Studies, 13(1), 19–36. https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2011.571825.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Lawlor, J. (2017, May 31). New muck rack survey: 72% of journalists say they are optimistic about the future. Muck Rack. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://muckrack.com/daily/2017/05/31/annual-journalist-survey-2017/.
  47. Leetaru, K. (2017, February 17). How Twitter’s new censorship tools are the Pandora’s box moving us towards the end of free speech. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2017/02/17/how-twitters-new-censorship-tools-are-the-pandoras-box-moving-us-towards-the-end-of-free-speech/.
  48. Luckie, M. S. (2015, December 30). Twitter still has a major problem with employee diversity. The Verge. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.theverge.com/2015/12/30/10688126/twitter-diversity-jeffrey-siminoff.
  49. McMillan Cottom, T. (2015). Who do you think you are?: When marginality meets academic microcelebrity. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, (7). Retrieved from http://adanewmedia.org/2015/04/issue7-mcmillancottom/.
  50. Messina, C. (2017, August 23). The hashtag is 10: What the hashtag means to me ten years after its invention. Medium. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://medium.com/chris-messina/hashtag10-8e114c382b06.
  51. Molyneux, L., Holton, A., & Lewis, S. C. (2017). How journalists engage in branding on Twitter: Individual, organizational, and institutional levels. Information, Communication & Society, 0(0), 1–16.  https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1314532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Moses, L. (2015, July 6). Internet mysteries: How does Twitter’s verification system work? Digiday. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://digiday.com/media/internet-mysteries-whats-twitters-verification-system/.
  53. Onder, E. (2017, March 9). 140journos partners with Twitter to promote online safety & citizen jour. Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/topics/company/2017/140journos-partners-with-twitter.html.
  54. Ong, T. (2017, October 16). Thousands of women share experiences of sexual assault on Twitter through #MeToo. The Verge. Retrieved November 15, 2017, from https://www.theverge.com/2017/10/16/16481658/twitter-metoo-hashtag-wome-sexual-assault-share-experiences-harassment.
  55. Oremus, W. (2017, March 5). Twitter’s new order. Slate. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/cover_story/2017/03/twitter_s_timeline_algorithm_and_its_effect_on_us_explained.html.
  56. Peiser, J. (2017, October 15). A bot that makes Trump’s tweets presidential. The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/15/business/media/trump-twitter-bots.html.
  57. Poell, T., & Rajagopalan, S. (2015). Connecting activists and journalists. Journalism Studies, 16(5), 719–733. https://doi.org/10.1080/1461670X.2015.1054182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Poepsel, M., & Painter, C. (2016). Alternative media and normative theory: A case of Ferguson, Missouri. CM: Communication and Media, 11(36.) Retrieved from http://ecommons.udayton.edu/cmm_fac_pub/34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Ramsey, D. X. (2016, January 6). Twitter’s white-people problem. The Nation. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.thenation.com/article/twitters-white-people-problem/.
  60. Reisinger, D. (2015, February 2). Facebook, Twitter report records for Super Bowl posts. CNet. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.cnet.com/news/facebook-twitter-report-records-for-super-bowl-posts/.
  61. Removal requests. (2017). Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://transparency.twitter.com/en/removal-requests.html.
  62. Santana, A. D., & Hopp, T. (2016). Tapping into a new stream of (personal) data: Assessing journalists’ different use of social media. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 93(2), 383–408. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699016637105.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Sengupta, S. (2012, July 16). Twitter releases statistics on government requests. New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/02/twitter-releases-statistics-on-government-requests/.
  64. Shearer, E., & Gottfried, J. (2017, September 7). News use across social media platforms 2017. Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.journalism.org/2017/09/07/news-use-across-social-media-platforms-2017/.
  65. Smith, A. (2014). African Americans and technology use. Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2014/01/06/african-americans-and-technology-use/.
  66. Social media fact sheet. (2017, January 12). Pew Research Center. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheet/social-media/.
  67. Sweney, M. (2014, July 14). World Cup final breaks Facebook and Twitter records. The Guardian. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jul/14/world-cup-final-breaks-facebook-and-twitter-records.
  68. Tiku, N. (2014, August 21). Twitter headquarters has painted #Ferguson on its office wall. Gawker. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://valleywag.gawker.com/twitter-headquarters-has-painted-ferguson-on-its-offic-1625162041.
  69. Trottier, D. (2013). Identity problems in the Facebook era. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  70. Tufekci, Z. (2017). Twitter and tear gas: The power and fragility of networked protest. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  71. Twitter total assets (quarterly). (2017). YCharts. Retrieved November 14, 2017, from https://ycharts.com/companies/TWTR/assets.
  72. Twitter: Most-followed accounts worldwide as of November 2017. (2017). Statista. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.statista.com/statistics/273172/twitter-accounts-with-the-most-followers-worldwide/.
  73. Varol, O., Ferrara, E., Davis, C. A., Menczer, F., & Flammini, A. (2017, May). Online human-bot interactions: Detection, estimation, and characterization. International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media. Retrieved May 17, 2018, from https://aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM17/paper/view/15587/14817.
  74. Vis, F. (2013). Twitter as a reporting tool for breaking news. Digital Journalism, 1(1), 27–47.  https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2012.741316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wang, S. (2017a, October 13). Twitter is crawling with bots and lacks incentive to expel them. Bloomberg. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-13/twitter-is-crawling-with-bots-and-lacks-incentive-to-expel-them.
  76. Wang, S. (2017b, November 3). Twitter sidestepped Russian account warnings, former worker says. Bloomberg. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-03/former-twitter-employee-says-fake-russian-accounts-were-not-taken-seriously.
  77. Willnat, L., & Weaver, D. H. (2014, May). The American journalist in a digital age: A first look. Paper presented at the International Communication Association Annual Conference, Seattle, WA. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from http://news.indiana.edu/releases/iu/2014/05/2013-american-journalist-key-findings.pdf.
  78. Woodruff, B., & Ackerman, S. (2017, October 19). Twitter gives just a sliver of data to Senate Russia probe. The Daily Beast. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://www.thedailybeast.com/twitter-gives-just-a-sliver-of-data-to-senate-russia-probe.
  79. #numbers. (2011, March 14). Twitter. Retrieved November 13, 2017, from https://blog.twitter.com/official/en_us/a/2011/numbers.html.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen R. Barnard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologySt. Lawrence UniversityCantonUSA

Personalised recommendations