By CultureBanx Team
- #BlackTwitter’s ability to spark change, nostalgia and intellectual civic discourse may be challenged under Musk’s leadership
- Black adults comprise Twitter’s largest ethnic group at 29%, far ahead of Hispanics and Whites at 23% and 22% respectively
The epicenter of social media and culture collide everyday when #BlackTwitter shapes global conversations. No internet subsection has a stronger connected Black community than Twitter (TWTR +0.62%)and this could possibly change with Elon Musk’s $44 billion purchase of the platform, since he is no stranger to trolling users. Since Black Twitter is not a separate platform, but rather an open secret to spark change, nostalgia and intellectual civic discourse, will accountability remain under new private leadership?
Why This Matters: We’ve seen throughout the past decade that 280 characters can be all it takes to spark a movement on Twitter. From #OscarsSoWhite, to #BlackLivesMatter, to #MeToo, which all turned into global rallying calls for racial and social justice, they were conceived by major influencers on #BlackTwitter. Now, many Black Twitter community members are left weighing the pros and cons of whether or not to continue using Twitter.
“Black culture has been actively mined for hundreds of years for influences on mainstream American culture,” said Northeastern University professor Meredith D Clark to The Guardian.
The collective of Black identities and voices on Twitter have been a diligent, occasionally merciless watchdog for problematic behavior. Pew Research Center found that Black adults comprise the social media platforms largest ethnic group at 29%, far ahead of Hispanics and Whites at 23% and 22% respectively. If #BlackTwitter decided to leave Musk’s platform, it could also come with some financial downside.
Without proper oversight and protection of what’s being tweeted on the platform, it’s possible that free speech and hate speech could become one in the same. This represents a major problem for the BIPOC users who are constantly targeted with negativity. In fact, Amnesty International analyzed millions of posts and found that one in 10 tweets mentioning Black women was abusive and problematic, compared with one in 15 for White women.
“Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” Musk said.
Let’s not forget the state of California is currently suing another one of Musk’s companies Tesla for racial discrimination and attempting to silence Black employees who spoke out. It’s the largest racial discrimination suit ever brought by the state and was filed on behalf of more than 4,000 former and current employees, all of whom are Black. So, it’s quite ironic that he is buying a company where Black people currently have a megaphone, though he insists he’s doing it all to protect free speech.
“I do think that you will see Black people doing what we have always done. And that is bend communication and other technologies to our needs and our will. And find ways to thrive in those various areas of the internet,” said Clark to the Los Angeles Times.
What’s Next: We will have to wait and see if there will be another social media service that offers that same level of access, distribution and open conversation for Black people to connect in real time. As for Twitter, Musk has to clear some regulatory hurdles before the deal closes.
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