Friday, September 28, 2012

Twitter Bullies

I really don't understand Twitter.  I know I am a blogger, but I think I blog with a purpose.  With Twitter though, and with Facebook status updates, I really don't care what people are doing all the time.  There are a few Tweeters that I check out occasionally, but its usually so mundane that it gets boring. Nobody cares what I am doing all hours of the day or night. Twitter has also become a major issue with bullying amongst teens.  That is what I am doing this morning, having a meeting about bullying. But it's not just teens.

Canadian university officials say they hope their new, web-based initiative will act as a "social mirror" reflecting the "pervasive and damaging" issue of casual homophobia on the Internet. Though Twitter is not just spreading homophobia.
The Candian site, called, reportedly measures the number of instances several commonly-used anti-gay terms -- including "faggot" and "dyke" -- are used daily, weekly and yearly on Twitter. The tally of numbers is indeed staggering: for instance, the term "so gay" was mentioned in a total of 800,000 tweets since July, though the most common was undoubtedly "faggot" (used 2.4 million times in the Twittersphere), according to the site.
Dr. Kristopher Wells, the Associate Director of University of Alberta's Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, said his team's agenda isn't to focus on individual tweets or Twitter users, but simply to demonstrate the "astonishing" frequency in which anti-gay language is used in everyday conversation.
"We make it very clear on our site that we are not in any way implying that the people who have tweeted these words were all intending to be homophobic," Wells told HuffPost Gay Voices in an email statement. "Words have the power to hurt, but they also have the power to heal. We want people to think before they speak and to always be mindful of the power of the language they use."
According to Wells, the site will be also supported by a variety of advertising tools, including transit advertising, posters, and a television commercial. Response from viewers, he said, has been incredibly supportive.
"People want to have this conversation," he said. "I saw one youth who even tweeted, 'Now you know my daily reality.'"


Coop said...

I have a twitter account. I've never written a twit myself I sign on like once a week. And, okay, I'm following Louis Tomlinson of 1 direction. (*giggles*).
I'm similar to you in that I can never think up a decent Facebook "what's on my mind".
I see myself doing Twitter in my professional life as part of organizations I work for. It's getting big in the library world.

As far as bullying goes, that happens on every kind of social media. I think it's a good thing to educate people about the harm it does. And to get the outlets (facebook, twitter, etc. etc. on board). Censoring words, however, can turn into suppressing free speech.
There are plenty of semi-anonymous people on the internet who call people faggots etc. etc. but I ignore that. But that's a different thing than having a comment directly addressed at you.

Jason said...

I confess I am a in and out user of Twitter, and have tweeted for a long while now. It can be fun to chat with different people from all over the world that it would otherwise be difficult to communicate with. Plus it is good to hear breaking news first or very fast, which twitter enables at the stroke of a key and the press of a button. There are positives and negatives involved, one of which is a shallow nature of conversations in sentences of 140 characters or less.

I've looked at the site, it was interesting and so scary that there was so much hate out there, but then again, looking at the number or twitter members and the number of tweets being tweeted, the homophobic language ones are less than 2% (roughly) so perhaps we should not worry too much.

Interesting post.