It never fails. My husband will ask me about something he saw on the news and I’ll tell him I read it the day before on Twitter where news “breaks” 24/7. That’s where so many blue checks in media hang, argue, harangue, condemn, and place themselves in the middle of every story they allegedly “report.”
How did a social media site like Twitter come to have so much influence on US politics?
This phenomenon certainly doesn’t have to do with quality reportage. If you look at Twitter’s carefully curated ‘Trends’ at the moment I am writing this article, here’s what people are reportedly hot and heavy over in the United States:
*Seattle cops are clearing the CHOP zone, dismantling barricades that served as walls. [Self-declared socialist protesters marched on the mayor’s neighborhood and that may have influenced Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan to change her mind about the “summer of love”. There’s a strong fence around the mayor’s mansion, notable because her party heatedly opposes walls on US borders.]
*Nordstrom was trending. [Comments made no sense whatsoever, but I guess any retailer is happy when they trend on Twitter.]
*Ed Henry [Fired Fox News co-anchor. Looks like a nice guy, but I don’t watch TV so I can’t assess his ‘news’ talents. Word on Twitter is that it had to do with an old sexual misconduct matter.]
*Debbie Harry [It’s her 75th birthday today.]
*Canada [153rd birthday for that country.]
*Jada Pinkett Smith [Denial of claims she had an affair.]
That’s it. Those are the riveting topics Twitter sees as important enough to ‘trend’.
Twitter’s power over Beltway politicos doesn’t have much to do with its stock price. It’s bottom of the social media barrel if you compare Twitter stock to Facebook stock. Both of those of course pale in comparison to the monster we call Alphabet and that monster (formerly Google) most definitely has control over what you find, read, and hear on the now heavily restricted Internet.
What makes this even more intriguing is the influence of institutional investors:
“Institutional investors purchased a net $15.8 million shares of TWTR during the quarter ended June 2019 and now own 74.79% of the total shares outstanding. This majority interest is a greater percentage than is typical for companies in the Internet Software/Services industry and highlights that the smart money sees this stock as an important holding.”
The Vanguard Group is currently the largest institutional investor. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for folks who invest there because Twitter is like any other social media site. Strong today but possibly shattered tomorrow. I mean what are you actually buying? Tweets. That’s it. Go figure.
Years ago when Twitter was new and I perceived it as a fairly open-minded outlet, it was beneficial to me in terms of connecting with readers. It’s ONV (of no value) to me now, and I spend less time there because I perceive it as a very anti-free-expression forum. If you’re a creative, the creative community expects you to do group think. I don’t.
Twitter is the playground for the Beltway boys and girls, and in that sense it is a big influencer on our news and on our politics. Seems to me we have control over that if we choose to take it. Vesting that kind of power in a social media forum where you have no idea who’s on the other end of the avatar is, in my opinion, a poor choice.
I remember how influential My Space once was, and how vital it was for artistic types, especially musicians, to be there. It’s a graveyard now. Whether that fate will befall the Twitterverse is unknown at the present time.
As for me, I still read at Twitter, but I’m focusing right now on a new social media platform, Parler, where you can connect with me at kbdjax1.
(Kay B. Day/July 1, 2020)
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