This is an unusual Leadamo Academy post as it strays slightly outside its usual remit of offering helpful hints and tips about twitter.
What does Turkey’s twitter trouble tell us?
Not that we are straying far from twitter it’s just this time we are considering social media as a much bigger entity. Why? Well it’s 21st March and the twitter website has been ‘blocked’ in Turkey. The headlines scream that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to ‘ wipe out twitter’.
There are some powerful undercurrents here.
As I type I am in mind of King Canute who tried predictably and unsuccessfully to hold back the tide (he was proving a point, however). In one sense a complete block won’t happen. People are already finding ways, if they are tech savvy, to work around the block. Yet it throws up some powerful democratic, philosophical and sociological questions we have to explore as individuals, as communities and as a society as a whole.
The ‘social’ in social media really does mean just that
If you read books such as ‘tweet Naked’ by Scott Levy as an example, he begins the volume by saying that social media is like going to a party. Hmnn, like no party I have ever been to, but let’s continue. Basically the ‘social’ in social media really does mean just that and the media aspect means you have a way of getting your ideas out to a massive audience.
Is social media truly democratic?
This comes with extraordinary responsibility that many have not perhaps, considered in its entirety. You might say that exposing corruption, hacking, spilling the beans, whistleblowing, whatever you might call it, is always a smart move. But actually social media, in itself is not truly democratic in itself
Consider this: we have been granted permission to access twitter.
Do something perceived in breach of regulations and your account is likely to be suspended. That can mean following too many people in one go, even if that’s just down to enthusiasm, it’s considered spammy, and hey presto you are stopped in your tracks.
There is a Gladiatorial element too
Other twitter users can make your life an absolute misery and bay for your blood like contemporary Roman participants at a gladiatorial battle. Look at the unfortunate case of Kelley Blazek who was almost sent into hiding when social media communities turned on her a couple of weeks back. We will leave you to decide the rights and wrongs here.
In addition the privilege and permissions continue.
You need an Internet connection or phone service, which costs. We can already see that Turkey is split into urban and rural and therefore those who inhabit the twittersphere have different perspectives from those who are still living life very much as it has been for centuries. What is crucial to you may have no relevance to others. 10 million people use twitter there but the country’s population is almost 77 million
Twitter crosses boundaries of every sort.
You might have a personal view about a moral or religious point but does that give you the right to express that in public in a country that has different moral values? Think of our reaction in the UK when someone tries to criticise our values or attempts to impose a different kind of law outside expected traditions.
Hell! It’s dangerous and as Levy says, ‘everything you put out there is an imprint or an image of what you are, what you stand for and what you are trying to communicate.’ If we look at examples of dystopian fiction with the likes of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, George Orwell’s 1984l, Cormac McCarthy The Road and others we can see that this spleen venting is adding up to one helluva lot of data. When the curtain comes down it’s very easy to find out who were the main players. Does that mean we should stay silent?
What if people do use twitter to spread allegations?
Are we judged guilty before a democratic trial? Already UK and US courts have had to crack down on jury media violation when the Internet is used to prejudice and sometimes prompt the collapse of the judiciary procedure . Are we all really aware of just how powerful these 140 characters actually are beyond the everyday?
Do we self-police?
Will the consensus overcome extremism? Turkish Internet providers were directed to divert Twitter traffic into a cul de sac. Yet how naïve is this? Back to Canute. A Virtual Private Network much loved by those in China who want access to blocked sites is one solution. There are others of course. To read more the BBC covered it here.
This is certainly something we should all tweet about, we should all think about and discuss thoughtfully. Twitter isn’t just about promoting business it’s about social media that has the capacity to change everything. You might just tweet:
‘be careful what you wish for.’