Sadly, however, the first live-tweeting presidency bears more resemblance to the broadcast-era version of democracy than the kind of democracy the internet was supposed to enable. The very limitations I hoped we’d transcend in our shift to internet democracy are instead finding new life in the President’s tweets.

How Trump’s Twitter presidency hijacked hopes for e-democracy | JSTOR Daily

Alexandra Samuel argues that instead of fulfilling cyberutopian visions for a digital democracy, Donald Trump’s use of twitter rather allows him to become a mass broadcaster without media accountability or criticism. 

Trump uses Twitter as an incredibly loud microphone without ever listening. He seems to get his (tweet) ideas from watching FOX News. Which is on one level understandable, I often get my tweet ideas from watching Maddow or listening to NPR, but I’m a job-seeking cultural studies graduate, and he is the most powerful man in the world. 

At the end, Samuel reminds us, there is a way “to vote for participatory media, political diversity, and online conversation rather than an unchecked stream of 140-character broadcasts. It’s called the Unfollow button.”  

The worst type of breadcrumber is the one who resurfaces every six months, and like the Loch Ness monster, you almost can’t believe this creature has come back into your life. But there he is, saying, ‘Hey, I was just thinking about you.’ It’s like a meerkat poking its head up. But not nearly as cute.

 Alicia Winokur, quoted in this NYT piece by Jessica Bennett on “breadcrumbing”: The Agony of the Digital Tease”

Brb, need to respond to a few emails.

The reason that I get grouchy is that I hate how the risks that we’re concerned about are shaped by the fears of privileged parents, not the risks of those who are already under constant surveillance, those who are economically disadvantaged, and those who are in the school-prison pipeline.

Schilling’s anger is so relatable. It would be hard for a parent to hear his description of Gabby’s day — thinking her college career was over before it began — and not be outraged. Yet here is what’s difficult about the reality many women face: Had an unknown 17-year-old called a university herself and contended that a student was harassing her online, would she have gotten the same attention? Would her troll or stalker been kicked off the team?

Schilling didn’t tell me the names and identities of the men he found, so it was impossible to verify that the correct perpetrator had been linked to a specific tweet. But someone wrote those words, and for Twitter and other Internet companies to treat the digital equivalent of “Fire!” in a movie house as protected speech, under the umbrella of free exchange of political thought, is disingenuous.

Violent speech on the Internet should be treated like threats made in any other manner, and it should be wrong across the board. If targets of abuse have to wait until every famous father has this issue intersect with his real life, that’s a long wait.


police are blaming social media because we’ve hit a point in social media where mass amounts of people are being made aware of events via first person accounts, through photos and videos and live streams 

of course they’re blaming social media because social media is making it harder to lie and hide the truth 

This is behind a lot of complaints about social media/the Internet by authorities, especially by those whose power rests on concepts the Internet challenges: Authorized accounts and news; nation-states and borders; a separation between people / citizens / accredited journalists / politicians. 

In this world of instant communication, I don’t think it will ever be possible to completely eradicate a lie once it’s loose in the atmosphere

Bill Kovach, quoted in a Chicago Tribune article from 1999 (!) debunking the myth that Catharine MacKinnon actually said/wrote “all heterosexual sex is rape,” a anti-feminist claim that predates the Internet. (Found the article thanks to feministing.)

Reading the article and the criticism of 24-hour journalism on the hunt for the next sensation at the cost of well-researched content, I am torn in my reaction.

At first, I was disappointed that things haven’t improved since then. Tribune writer Cindy Richards was optimistic: “Viewers are turning off the hype and tuning into National Public Radio.” Kovach adds a bit of interesting historical context I wasn’t entirely aware of. In the 1920s, the introduction of the radio brought along a sensationalist frenzy in a similar way to the hype brought along by 24h cable news or the Internet.

Then again, comparing the criticisms in the article to today, things haven’t deteriorated that far in the last 15 years. People have created their own finely-tuned information bubbles, and digital gossip rags like TMZ are apparently out new whistle-blowers. But culture still exists, and the Internet is also home to in-depth reporting and platform for voices that would otherwise remain unheard. The digital tools that make spreading lies so easy also make it easy to debunk those lies. Both in 1999 and in 2014. That, on this grey and cold November Friday, gives me hope.

Recognizing Value on Twitter

Jeb Lund, in a challenging article for the Guardian, argues that manual retweets are mere self-promotion borderlining on intellectual larceny, and that retweets/twitter reaction articles a la buzzfeed aren’t journalism at all. 

I don’t entirely agree with his argument. I’d probably set the bar for usefulness on a commented manual RTs differently. I wouldn’t entirely negate the claim that retweets can be reporting in every case (Depends on your definition of reporting; not every legitimate reporter article is stellar, original, Pulitzer-worthy) Large parts are spot-on, the whole piece well worth your time.

Lund touches on an issue I’ve been thinking about for a while now: How do we give people doing great thinking/writing on social media the proper recognition?  Even beyond the “twitter reacts”-buzzfeed-click-bait issue. In our societies, proper recognition means money. Micropayment platforms like flattr haven’t taken off at all, especially in the US (although NPR’s Planet Money did run a story about it recently.) Paywalls/subscriptions/kickstarters don’t make sense for all people and organizing everything this way would have detrimental effects on the social media environment, too. I am certain: How to properly monetize, recognize valuable content on twitter (and tumblr, blogs, ..) will be generating think pieces for a while.

(Found the article via @angryblacklady Imani Gandy)