Talk Twitter to me

Twitter, as most of you know, is a microblogging website and app that allows you to post statuses, photos and even videos. Along with postings, Twitter users are also able to “retweet” and “favourite” tweets posted by others. “These days, twitter postings cover every imaginable topic, ranging from political news to product information in a variety of formats, e.g., short sentences, links to websites, and direct messages to other users.” (Tumasjan, Sprenger, Sandner, Welpe, 2010).

Every tweet's limit is 140 characters or less. Yes, that includes the spaces between every word. Quite frankly, It fascinates me how effective 140 characters can be. 140 characters can start social movements, protests and overall raise awareness of larger issues. One may think that 140 characters are not enough to send out a strong message, but they'd be surprised at the impact in can have.

Just like Facebook, Twitter too was involved in the Egyptian Revolution in 2011. Twitter became a way for people to keep quick track of the news, right in the palm of their hands. The Egyptians who were taking part in the protest would update their Twitters with tweets, photos and videos about the current happenings during the protests. “Tweets from these users contained information about meeting times, injuries, violence, supplies needed, etc. Revolutionaries were clearly using social media services to coordinate their actions and garner support.” (Starbird, Palen, 2012).

The Egyptians, who were not physically at the protests, were still, however, raising awareness about the issues by retweeting the tweets posted by the protesters. Retweets are used both for information diffusion and for engaging others. (Boyd, Golder & Lotan, 2010). Referring to my personal experiences with Twitter, I believe that raising awareness about any issue can occur through the process of retweeting something. Realistically, the tweet does not even need to be about an issue, it can be an idea, a thought, and even a quote. But the point is, retweeting something simply helps spread the word.

Now, personally speaking, I prefer reading short and quick messages or pieces of information in regards to social and political unrests. I’m sure I’m speaking on behalf of many other people, but sometimes a short explanation or a small piece of information can be a lot more effective than an entire book. So keep your tweets to less than 140 characters or just don’t tweet at all. In other words, talk Twitter to me.

By: Amina Ramona Khan

References:

Tumasjan, A., Sprenger, T., Sandner, P., & Whelp, I. (2010). Predicting Elections with Twitter: What 140 Characters Reveal about Political Sentiment. *Proceedings of the Fourth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media,* 178-185. Web. Retrieved from http://www.aaai.org/ocs/index.php/ICWSM/ICWSM10/paper/viewFile/1441/1852Predicting

Starbird, K., & Palen, L. (2015). (How) Will the Revolution be Retweeted? Information Diffusion and the 2011 Egyptian Uprising. *Association for Computing Machinery. *7-16. Web. Retrieved from https://www.cs.colorado.edu/~palen/StarbirdPalen_RevolutionRetweeted.pdf

Boyd, D., Golder, S., & Logan, G. (2010). Tweet, Tweet, Retweet: Conversational Aspects of Retweeting on Twitter. 1-10. Web. Retrieved from http://www.danah.org/papers/TweetTweetRetweet.pdf