With news of Snapchat preparing for its monstrous IPO of potentially 30 Billion Dollars, for African Americans has it too become the Social Media of choice surpassing Twitter?
While Twitter has become a space where black intellectuals have to constantly face off against racists and bigots, and abusive behavior, Snapchat creates a fun and intimate community among users that’s devoid of most vitriol.
In our humble opinion for a lot of reasons lately Twitter is starting to feel like a nightclub that’s just past its prime. It’s the sort of spot that used to be hot, but its best days might be behind it. One of the primary reasons is that there’s no accountability. Conversations on Twitter can become so toxic so fast because people can sign on as whomever they want and say whatever they want. I love freedom, but absolute freedom in a community means some users will take it as an invitation to be their worst selves, poisoning the atmosphere for everyone.
The people who govern Twitter provide us with no practical policing mechanism, they only act when someone complains. Just this week, writer Julia Ioffe was getting Nazi flags tweeted at her. She complained privately to no avail and then tweeted, “Guy tweeting Nazi flags at me, says @twitter, is not in violation of Twitter policy.” That’s outrageous. And apparently someone at Twitter HQ agrees because after Ioffe put out that tweet, the offending accounts were suspended. But why didn’t they stop it before it got that far? Remember, this is not a First Amendment issue. Twitter is a private company, they can establish rules of conduct that combat hate speech.
Instead, the overabundance of racist, sexist, and anti-semitic trolls are destroying the Twitter experience for many people. The New York Times article “Why I Left Twitter” pointed out the existence of all sorts of handles that are overtly anti-semitic and pro-Hitler. Last week, I was accosted by someone called @fuckblacklives. Why should I have to see that? Why should anyone have to see that? I think every woman who’s active on Twitter can tell you about the horde of insane things that are sent to them. It’s not helping Twitter’s image or user experience to be tacitly supportive of racists, misogynists, and anti-semites who attack people in public. Putting aside the obvious moral implications, these problems are not good for the business of Twitter, which is beginning to really struggle.
That said, I still derive great joy from Black Twitter. Like an amazing virtual barbershop, you can talk politics with Marc Lamont Hill and Joy Reid and Netta Briellerielle, then basketball with JA Adande and Bomani Jones, then culture with Questlove and Jamilah Lemieux and Reggie Hudlin and Soledad O’Brien, and on and on.
I feed off of Black Twitter’s bravado, strength, and wit. I love the way the collective community has an ego that emanates from each user and becomes an ultimate badass party. Black Twitter also gives me a reason to watch stuff like Scandal, Being Mary Jane and the BET Awards in real time. Even when Twitter as a whole seems to be in its twilight, Black Twitter still feels homey and entertaining, and it can still be a space for protest when needed.
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