Twitter has fundamentally changed the manner is which millions of people communicate. Its impact on society has been profound. If you are not engaged on Twitter, then you are missing out on this evolution and revolution in media communication.
So, What Exactly Is Twitter?
Twitter is a simple platform for electronic communication. You are only permitted to type a maximum of 140 characters, yet able express whatever you like. You have the ability to type in a status update on what you are doing at the moment, share an opinion, or a link to a blog or article that you like. Incredibly, Twitter provides an outstanding platform to share breaking news updates concerning world events. For example, twitter users were able to share Tsunami warnings in Japan by providing second by second updates that informed at-risk victims and aid workers, perhaps saving many lives. But for many, Twitter, with its millions of users, provides the ideal platform to stay informed on major media events and trending topics.
What’s In A Hashtag?
The hashtag symbol, “#,” provides a great way to seek out information on an endless amount of topics. By searching #eurocrisis, you can get information from twitter users on their thoughts about this current global event. It provides a great way to see and read divergent views on matters. Or, if you want to find people with similar interests, you can search #yoga and find people who share your passion for this exercise form. The hashtag becomes your vessel to search out information to satisfy your curiosities and connect with those who share your interests. Once you find people who share your interests or seem interesting, you then have the ability to follow them.
Why Do Twitter Users Want Followers Anyway?
Those new to Twitter may be confused by the concept of “followers.” It is important to remember that followers are not the same as stalkers. Followers are people that have searched profiles or tweets of people who they feel share common interests or think are interesting. In other words, these people want to be your friend. But, don’t worry; you do not have to follow them back. In the end, look at every new follower as someone you can potentially connect with. Every time you receive a new follower, you should check out their profile and tweets to see if this is a person you would be interested in following.
Getting started on Twitter is free, easy, and takes only a few minutes. You simply register your name, email address, create a password, and pick a twitter handle, or name. You then fill out a profile, limited to 160 characters (which still confuses me as to why you get an extra 20 characters). But, feel free to take advantage of the extra digital real estate.
Finally, you can then tweet your first message. This is critical, because what you first tweet will determine whether anyone will ever follow you. Okay, I am totally kidding, have fun with it and type whatever you like (well, maybe not?)
Twitter Can Censor What You Say?
Twitter is a great way to express your opinions on an endless array of subjects. However, recently, Twitter has come under fire for its ability to “censor” tweets in certain countries. According an article in USA Today titled “Twitter may censor tweets in individual counties,” Twitter has refined its technology to allow for the censorship of topics that local governments do not want its people to read. It is no secret that countries like China, which currently blocks Twitter, and others around the world filter media sites. Many groups are protesting this technology as they feel Twitter should protect First Amendment rights everywhere in the world.
However, while I am a champion of First Amendment rights, I see nothing wrong with Twitter filtering this content in other countries. Twitter must follow the laws of other countries when doing business in those countries. If countries like China want to filter content, then that is their right to do so! We cannot impose American First Amendment rights on other countries and have our corporations break laws in these countries in the pursuit of freedom. If the people in these countries want unfiltered content, then they need to take it up with their country leaders.
Scarff, Oli. (2012, January 27). Twitter may censor tweets in individual countries. USA Today Tech. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2012-01-27/twitter-censor-tweets/52811702/1.
Article written by Joshua Sutterfield. Known in the Twitter world as @SavvyJosh.