AU MA Social Media

A class blog about social media.

Twitter, Turkey, and Truth to Power

Posted by zachthebernstein on June 6, 2013

In international news: Thousands of Turks are protesting the government’s redevelopment of a park in Istanbul.  That may not sound like it’s terribly analogous to what happened during the Arab Spring, but this bit might make you reconsider: Twitter has taken off as a means of spreading information about the protests.  According to the blog The Monkey Cage, millions of Tweets with protest-related hashtags have gone out since the protests began.  The most amazing stat?  After midnight, local time, over 3,000 Tweets about the protest went out – every minute.  As Slate noted, 2,530 people were checked in to Taksim Gezi Park, the location of the protests, on Foursquare.  That’s “busier than usual,” according to Foursquare.

All of this sounds amazing, and a true testament to the power of social media to keep a conversation going and spread the word about a protest, especially when traditional media is slower to do its job and report.  As it turns out, not everyone is so pleased:

Now we have a menace that is called Twitter. The best example of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.

That’s Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who might be getting a tad hyperbolic.  I mean, yes, people can misuse Twitter to falsely claim the President has been assassinated.  (Or Taylor Swift.)  It’s not like Twitter has fact-checkers, and like all technology, people with way too much time on their hands can screw it up.  But it’s pretty obvious that Erdoğan is just unhappy that people are using Twitter to prolong a protest that is grabbing all kinds of headlines.  To me, this sort of thing is where the real value of Twitter lies – using people power to make positive change in the world.  And when you have elected officials calling it out as a den of lies, you know you’re getting their attention.

So if you know someone who’s on the fence about using Twitter, show them this.  It’s maybe the best reason to join Twitter you’ll see this week.

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