Twitter and its responsibility with citizen activism

Twitter and its responsibility with citizen activism

November 28, 2022, 18:44 PM

November 28, 2022, 18:44 PM

Its going public, the massive layoffs, and user confidence at its lowest point in recent years, make the moment Twitter is going through seem just a matter of numbers and profits, but the doubts surrounding this social network they go much further. A stage for celebrities and a catwalk for frivolities, the blue bird network also serves as a loudspeaker and protection for millions of citizens around the world. How many of them will be left unprotected by the ups and downs of the San Francisco giant? Hard to tell, but authoritarians rub their hands over the possible end of the company.

Fifteen years ago, when activism in Cuba began to discover new technologies, a text-only message (SMS) sent from a mobile phone could make the difference between being on one side or the other of prison bars. Those were the times when Twitter maintained part of its original structure and it was enough to send 140 characters through cell phones for that tiny text to reach thousands or millions of Internet users. That bird’s trill saved many of us who, now, wonder if we can count on this microblogging system in the future.

The target of slander and the scene of innumerable photos of feet sticking out at the edge of the pool, the social network that a few years ago expanded its posts to 280 characters is also the most powerful speaker for getting any information to international organizations, the media and government entities. If Facebook is for friends, while Instagram is for followers, Twitter is an easy path to the ears of journalists, activists, and officials.

After the purchase of the company by Elon Musk, it is worth asking whether this direct route to the complaint will be maintained or will succumb to other interests. In Managua, Caracas and Havana —just to mention Latin American countries— they must already be celebrating the funeral of a technological tool that has caused them severe headaches. They applaud the fact that, shortly, tweets could be a thing of the past and the complaints published through this network would barely become a distant, barely audible echo.

The only way to safeguard all those activists and journalists who have flown on the wings of the restless bird would be with an ethical commitment from the company to its most vulnerable users. They are not the ones that could contribute the most to the monetization campaigns but they support the credibility, the social character and the main mission of Twitter. No, the social network did not grow nor was it supported by its followers due to the number of cocktails photographed on the beach, much less by the accounts of presidents or candidates for president.

Twitter is ours. An important part of our lives has passed in his timeline and another vital portion depends on its continuing flight. We are not talking about the cost of shares on the stock market, votes at the polls or advertising campaigns in the business folder, but lives. Will there be a public commitment to the most vulnerable users? The next few weeks will say the last word, but that wait may end too late for all of them.

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