Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Twitter Tuesday - #occupywallstreet #toomuchdoubt

Twitter can be an interesting place.  Much like anything in the modern world it is what you make of it.  It can be a useful tool for gathering instant feedback and having your finger on the pulse of the country.

Or you could follow Lil Duval and washed up porn stars.

But this past week, instead of being the venue for the story, Twitter was the story.

You see last week two things happened that people were eager to tweet about.  One was that some people got tired of the power that corporations have in society and decided to decamp to Wall Street in an effort to protest and being attention to the problem.  The other was the pending execution of Troy Davis, who many people believe was an innocent man sentenced to die.

Now, for those of you aren't that familiar with Twitter, there usually ten "trending topics", one which is promoted, while the other nine which are things people are actually tweeting about.  Sometimes it's what people are currently tweeting about, for instance during the Emmys when Modern Family was destroying the competition "Modern Family" was trending.

The other sort of trending topic features a hash tag.  For instance during the Emmys when people wanted to add their comments or snark to the discussion they'd often end tweets with #emmys.  That lumped all of those tweets together in an easy to search timeline.

All of this to say that while people were occupying Wall Street and doubting the guilt of Troy Davis, Twitter prevented #occupywallstreet and #toomuchdoubt from becoming trending topics.  Enough people were tweeting about them to push them to the top of the list, but the people at Twitter prohibited them from appearing on the Trending Topic list.

People were less than happy.

Some pointed out the hypocrisy of the role Twitter played during the recent Arab Spring uprisings with the blatant acts of censorship in regards to what people were actually tweeting about.  Other people were outraged at the censorship under the guise of trying to be inoffensive.

I understood the complaints.  It seems like almost daily Twitter allows a Black remix a Jeff Foxworthy bit to be a trending topic, which everyone happily participates in.  So when it comes to something as important as possibly getting an innocent man freed or creating a revolution akin to Arab Spring, it just felt rather safe.

But what I found most offensive about the whole Troy Davis ordeal is that it felt so phony.  It felt as though everyone were jumping on the Troy Davis bandwagon.  It was actually quite sickening.  Especially because I knew that the only reason people offered any faux interest is because celebrities were tweeting about it.

It was really disturbing to see people feign interest in something I knew would be gone in less than a week. Their interest in saving a man who may have been innocent would only last as long as there wasn't anything else for them to flock their attention to, and probably something involving reality tv.

It was almost like the disturbing displays of skim sympathy that a celebrity gets once their death hits twitter; it's like the people who were mocking you last week or didn't even care about you are now suddenly devastated at your passing.

Only the stuff with Troy Davis was happening in real time and while he was still alive.  It turned my stomach almost as much as the censoring did.

But at the end of they, Twitter doesn't belong to anyone other than those people who made it and run it.  And if they deem something offensive and don't wish to see it promoted it, tweeters should suck it up.  It's the price they pay for playing in Twitter's sandbox.

Also, I highly doubt that anyone would be crying foul if Twitter blocked a trending topic created by Storm Front.

It was captivating to see who cared about the censoring and made a big deal out of it.  It got to the point where the censoring almost became as a large a stories that were being censored.  Which was ironic and sad.

And that's what happened on Twitter this week.  

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