How Twitter threatens public discourse and democracy
We’re all aware of the strengths the media and digital strategists attribute to Twitter, but it’s equally important to understand how the platform is threatening public discourse and democracy:
1. Regardless of Twitter undoing commercial media’s privatization of the public forum (think TV networks) by placing “mass” communication in the people’s hands, Twitter’s search application prevents a public sphere from forming. Search creates fragmentation in which users seek out like-minded individuals; thus, opting away from discourse of joint concerns. Twitter conversations simply become boring and stale non sequiturs.
2. Twitter’s most threatening division is its members and people who are non-members. In order to be a member of Twitter, one needs access to the Internet and to be an active Twitter user most need a mobile phone to do so. Thus, Twitter furthers the digital divide—the relationship between literate people who have access to the Internet and those who are illiterate with no access. The digital divide could be perceived as the newest gap to measure democracy because the moment we stop to think about those who are falling behind the promise of democracy weakens.
More Twitter observations to come in the future.