Since Twitter came onto the social media scene in 2006, it has grown to become the second largest social network in the world, with over 200 million active users. What’s really set it apart from sites like Facebook is the immediacy it offers, earning it the unofficial title of ‘the pulse of the planet’.
Tweets are shared about global news and events on the spot and in the moment—it’s possibly the rawest and most impactful form of journalism, requiring the unique skill of conveying a message in under 140 characters. As a result of this new instantaneous means of sharing news and discussing the latest hot topics, Twitter has transformed modern journalism and politics.
A simple Google search of the words ‘Twitter’ and ‘revolution’ yields around 500 million results—and this is no surprise. With Twitter’s distinctly news- and politics-oriented user-generated content, it’s the go-to network for people who want to share a breaking news story or a bold political message. Consequently, Twitter has been used around the world to raise awareness of opposition movements; to organise rallies and protests; and to call global attention to inhumane or undemocratic government actions.
In fact, Twitter is said to have played a pivotal role in many revolutions in recent years, including many of the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, for example. The Iranian revolution of 2009–2010 in particular was earmarked as the ‘Twitter Revolution’; and the recent social and political unrest in Venezuela also has a distinctly Twitter-centric inclination, with opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez even sending incendiary tweets directly to the President of the Republic.
More of a Western tool
However, detractors of these supposed Twitter revolutions say otherwise: do you really think an Iranian rebel was sat in front of his laptop composing tweets in English about his plight and coming up with catchy hashtags to generate awareness of an impending revolution?
Twitter’s role in modern revolutions centres more on providing a steady stream of information for Western journalists rather than being an effective organisational tool for revolutionaries. The custom hashtags for various uprisings or protests offer an easily accessible source of news stories from richly diverse perspectives as well as unique, authentic insights.
Importantly, Twitter is pivotal in drawing international attention to political wrongdoing and unrest; it has also proven effective at rallying and organising the Diaspora. The case of Venezuela earlier this year is a clear-cut example of this, where the Venezuelan Diaspora took to Twitter with gusto, issuing non-stop tweets about the ongoing situation in the land of their roots.
A force to be reckoned with
Either way, there’s no denying Twitter’s far-reaching, powerful influence when it comes to news and politics. With politicians and world leaders, from the Pope to Putin, actively using Twitter to share their messages and gather support, it’s a platform to be respected and used with care.
To find out more on how you can use Twitter’s global appeal and impact to benefit your business, contact us at Point and Stare today.