Twitter may not be the greatest threat to American democracy, but it’s on the list as a fountain of falsehoods and a source of planned propaganda.
It is all-too-often a garbage generator, a sewer of moral supremacy that can clearcut a forest of opposing opinion that the Left and the young Twitterverse does not like. If Twitter had a face, it would be a Puritan, or perhaps an Inquisition judge, sniffing the air like a rat in pursuit of the cheese of impure thought.
You are getting the idea I don’t like Twitter?
But, Stu, you use it yourself.
True, but I use it as a one-way street. I may put my columns out there, but I try very hard not to read the replies and even harder not to respond. I usually succeed.
Am I not interested in other opinions?
Yes, but not on Twitter.
Why? Most importantly, too many people don’t use their real names, unlike Facebook, where they do. I’m not interested in the opinions of those too cowardly to stand behind their own names.
Second, the layout is confusing. I have to search too long to find out the origin of a comment, rather than a retweet.
Yes, not understanding it is on me, but I am not alone. Ask the Facebook group called WHY IS TWITTER SO CONFUSING? I also find LinkedIn poorly organized, but LI is not a well of hate and abuse. It is civil. Most of the time.
I am signed up to follow about 80 people, including nonstop Tweeter Donald J. Trump, yet my feed is dominated by a guy tweeting about his cat.
“Twitter is not an accurate reflection of the world we live in,” wrote Issie Lapowsky in Wired. “It’s more of a fun house mirror, distorting and exaggerating its subjects to sometimes funny, sometimes frightening effect.”
It has 126 million subscribers, “but this self-selecting group can have a disproportionately large effect on the stories the media tells,” he wrote, long before Bari Weiss quit as an op-ed editor of The New York Times saying Twitter should be listed on the masthead.
Twitter creates a tide of ideas and people who are rising and falling, whether or not they actually are. Anytime I hear a broadcaster say a story about to be reported is trending on Twitter, I run like I’m being chased by a rabid wart hog.
Lapowsky cites Pew Research, which lays out the following facts:
- Twitter users are younger than the population at large
- They are wealthier
- They are better educated
- They lean further left
- They are disproportionately Black — 25%, contrasted with 13% of the general population
Pew also found that the top 10% of Twitter users produce 80% of the tweets, and that’s not counting what’s produced by robots. Pew reports 66% of links to popular websites came from accounts that are likely to be bots.
So while you may think you are being wooed by a broad range of American opinion, you are not. Twitter is an unreliable method of taking society’s pulse. “That’s a fact that sometimes gets lost when the angry online hordes draw their pitchforks or when a presidential tweet about building a wall appears more popular than the policy itself really is,” writes Lapowsky.
It is the voice of partisan America, not necessarily honest or rational America. It is a mob that can bring someone as inoffensive as Ellen DeGeneres to tears. Because she listens to them. She should not. You should not. If you don’t listen, it’s just a leaf falling in the forest.
Frightening to me is the large number of users who get their “news” from Twitter, because they don’t trust the gatekeepers of the mainstream media.
They prefer “news” prepared by unknown people with unknown motives.
That is an actual threat to democracy.