Twitter and the examples of its “bad use”

The main three strands of academic literature related to Twitter use are the following:

– Motivation. Literature of this strand discusses the reasons of web 2.0 popularity. The literature of this strand provides the answers on the question “Why people use microblogging”
“Network analysis of Twitter users in the early days) suggested that people join because their friends are already using it. The networks resembled those seen in the analysis of cell phone networks. The huge number of users is just what we’ve come to expect from the internet: people can easily conform to the technological norm because services are often free, and it’s well-known that free is a special price we can’t resist. The number of users is less interesting than what people are using it for and why. (Java et al., 2007)”

– Different forms of activity in web 2.0 and Twitter. It is known that the majority of users prefer passive participation in social network, while the minor part forms trends with their active participation. For example, Heil and Piskorsky provided the research of Twitter use patterns and presented some valuable findings. They highlighted the difference of Twitter from a typical on-line social network. “A typical Twitter user contributes very rarely. Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one. This translates into over half of Twitter users tweeting less than once every 74 days. (Heil and Piskorsky

At the same time there is a small contingent of users who are very active. Specifically, the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets. On a typical online social network, the top 10% of users account for 30% of all production. To put Twitter in perspective, consider an unlikely analogue – Wikipedia. There, the top 15% of the most prolific editors account for 90% of Wikipedia’s edits.

In other words, the pattern of contributions on Twitter is more concentrated among the few top users than is the case on Wikipedia, even though Wikipedia is clearly not a communications tool. This implies that Twitter’s resembles more of a one-way, one-to-many publishing service more than a two-way, peer-to-peer communication network” (Heil, Piskorsky, 2009). This strand involves literature answering the question “How people use microblogging”

– Consequences. We could pay no attention to some outer fact but social systems using Web 2.0 also depend on some outer factors that could cause serious problems. One of the most significant and burning problems already discussed is violation of right for privacy. Web 2.0 is interactive and friendly for the first look; it could be easily managed by the user. But the same time gathers statistical data about the users, their preferences and interests, private life, carrier, friends could help the owner of the web site to manipulate the web society. According to the most pessimistic prognosis numerous Web 2.0 web sites and other IT technologies give a prototype of totalitarian system of so called “Big Brother”. Besides, social networks like Twitter can be used in illegal purposes. Crimes and terrorists organization all over the world can use Twitter for communication. Besides, within recent two years Twitter was used for coordination of mass protest in some countries of Middle East. So-called “Twitter Revolutions” include Egyptian protests in 2011, civil unrest in Moldova in 2009 and 2009-2010 Iranian election protests.

“This makes Twitter practically ideal for a mass protest movement, both very easy for the average citizen to use and very hard for any central authority to control. The same might be true of e-mail and Facebook, but those media aren’t public. They don’t broadcast, as Twitter does. On June 13, when protests started to escalate, and the Iranian government moved to suppress dissent both on- and off-line, the Twitterverse exploded with tweets from people who weren’t having it, both in English and in Farsi. While the front pages of Iranian newspapers were full of blank space where censors had whited-out news stories, Twitter was delivering information from street level, in real time.”(Grossman, 2009)

Analyzing the debates related to Twitter use in media and literature it can be mentioned that all the strands in academic literature has some gaps. For example, all three strands are lacking the theoretical base. Most of the existing theories in social sciences are inappropriate for Web 2.0 and Twitter, and new theories are not supported sufficiently with evidences and statistics.

Thus, every new research can add to the study of Twitter impact on the life of society. The empirical study of Twitter bad use base on the analysis of some articles and news media publication is suitable for the research of its influence. As a rule, researches are focused on everyday use of social networks and micloblogging for work and communication. However, the recent political events in the world revealed another purpose of Twitter use. Twitter can be used as the communication service for opposition press or crime coordination. Thus, this research continues studying three main aspects of Twitter use, and at the same time adds to the gaps in theoretical base related to use and impact of social networks.

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