Black Lives Matter activists stormed the stage at Milo Yiannopoulos’ speaking event held at DePaul University in Chicago. Two protestors took the stage, swiped the mic from the moderator, and proceeded to shut down the even. Even after Yiannopoulos was repeatedly threatened with physical violence, campus security refused to removed the protestors.
Twitter has been a ground breaking social media platform that has enabled millions of average citizens to have a platform on which to share ideas on a global scale. It has leveled the communication playing field so that celebrities, elites, and average citizens can express their points of view with the potential of a large scale audience. Despite this great benefit to the proliferation of worldwide free speech, Twitter has been struggling to gain new users and maintain current consumer levels.
There are three ways that Twitter can work to broaden its audience and gain more users than it loses. First of all, Twitter should make the idea of freedom of speech its foundational principle as a business. In recent months, Twitter has been actively censoring people who post opinions that the safety council disagrees with (Prestigiacomo, 2016), rather than merely content that could lead to violence. While the 1st Amendment cannot be enforced on private corporations or individuals, this is a big deterrent to people who may want to use Twitter but have either left or have been forced to leave because they express opinions that the powers that be at Twitter do not approve of. By loosening such bigoted restrictions, Twitter can expand its base to a greater audience and show that it is welcoming to alternative opinions being expressed which will ultimately attract more users.
Secondly, Twitter should work to simplify its user platform. Twitter is often considered an escape from the more bogged down, overly ad saturated, and content controlled social media outlets such as FaceBook. When Twitter announced changes that would make its platform operate more like FaceBook it caused such a backlash that the hashtag #RIPTwitter started trending, causing the company to ultimately walk back these changes to some degree (Kharpal, 2016). Since it is clear that a simplified platform is one of the most attractive features of Twitter, the company should work to maintain and even further simplify their platform by keeping ads minimal and allowing user controlled content rather than content controlled by algorithms.
Finally, Twitter should allow more mixed media posts. The 140 character limit to each post has been one of Twitter’s most winning features; however I and other colleagues that use Twitter have complained that links to outside sources often take up too much of our character limit. We end up having to choose between text, links, gifs, pictures, or videos, and it is often difficult to come up with a combination that expresses our message while still fitting within the length requirements. Twitter should consider opening up its limit for content posting to be 140 characters of text in addition to a picture, link, or video to stimulate further use and discussion. By making the above changes that I have suggested, Twitter will have made a bold move let go of its restrictive trend and embrace both new users and better ways of sharing a diverse selection of ideas.
Kharpal, A. (2016, February 8). #RIPTwitter: User outrage over changes to tweets. Retrieved from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/02/08/twitter-users-decry-reported-plan-to-prioritize-tweets.html
Levin, J. (2016, February 20). Is Twitter Silencing Conservatives. Retrieved from http://legalinsurrection.com/2016/02/is-twitter-silencing-conservatives/
Prestigiacomo, A. (2016, January 11). Twitter Tried To Hurt Gay Conservative Milo Yiannopoulos. It Really, REALLY Backfired. Retrieved from http://www.dailywire.com/news/2509/twitter-tried-hurt-gay-conservative-milo-amanda-prestigiacomo