Activists and political opponents worry about the possible demise of Twitter
In recent years, the app has often been a sounding board for popular uprisings. The blurring of Twitter’s future raises fears of a lack of information about these actions in the future.
From the Arab Spring to the protests in Iran, through the #Metoo or #Blacklivesmatter movements, Twitter has established itself as an important global platform for activists and political opponents, and if the network bluebird just disappears, it risks losing a valuable mobilization tool. .
There are other platforms, but Twitter “is very effective in allowing the media and leaders to pay attention to what is happening in the world. In that sense, it is a unique and very special platform,” researcher Mahsa Alimardani told AFP. Article 19 for the organization of freedom of expression.
According to him, currently in Iran, “in the absence of foreign correspondents and independent journalists who can report on what is happening, it is the only real access to voices and events.”
In recent days, among others, Twitter still broadcasts footage of a demonstration in China, the world’s largest iPhone factory.
In the past, the social network has served as a voting board and relay of global mobilization for numerous popular uprisings: the Arab Spring, the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, the civil war in Syria, the protests in Iran, and more. see the raw reality of the repression carried out by the planet’s authoritarian regimes.
“Twitter has saved records of so many different actions and events. There are so many activists who have turned to Twitter over the years. Losing all these records would be a great loss because they are a mark for history,” Mahsa Alimardani worries.
Focus on the reasons
Twitter, a kind of global public square where true and false information, statements and other stories of more or less importance are openly shared, had 237 million daily users at the end of June, significantly less (1.98 billion) than Facebook. , TikTok (over a billion) or Snapchat (363 million).
The social network, whose messages cannot exceed 140 characters, nevertheless has become an important space for many media, companies and celebrities who are sometimes satisfied with this single channel.
It has also been widely used by activists and political opponents around the world to bring national and international attention to various causes. Twitter has played an important role in the promotion of social events such as #Metoo, sexual violence or #Blacklivesmatter to condemn police violence against African Americans in the United States.
“Twitter’s functionality allows protest movements to give an identity, share memes, hashtags to create a common feeling. And that identity can cross borders and spread very quickly in foreign media and attract global attention, which is one thing. It worries oppressive leaders, ” Marcus Michaelsen, an independent researcher specializing in online activism and surveillance, told AFP.
In addition, activists “can reach out to journalists or political leaders more directly than on other networks, such as Instagram,” adds Marcus Michaelsen.
A deeply destabilized network
In Egypt, during the Arab Spring at the beginning of 2011, “Twitter was mainly used by educated Egyptians who did not represent the majority of people on the streets and who made the revolution a reality,” points out Britain’s Nadia Idle. An Egyptian activist takes part in the debate in Tahrir Square, the center of the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
“But that doesn’t mean Twitter isn’t important,” said the activist, who also co-authored the 2011 book Tweets from Tahrir.
“Twitter has established itself as a place to report on events. (…) Many tweeters consider themselves ‘citizen journalists’ and generally make it their mission to report the facts with a stream of accurate pieces of information, videos and images.”, Nadia Idl and his co-author, Alex Nunns, write in the foreword to this book.
Since being taken over by the whimsical billionaire Elon Musk, the bluebird network has been deeply unstable and even threatened with collapse, angering many users who sometimes take years to build a following.
“It’s hard to describe the value of Twitter over the past ten years. (…) It goes without saying that the only people who will be happy as Elon Musk leads Twitter to his own destruction are the world’s worst dictatorships and war criminals. For the first time in fifteen years, they they will be safe from the world’s most powerful real-time global surveillance tool,” Charles Lister, a researcher at the Middle East Institute think tank in Washington, tweeted last week.