Whereas people in journalism are calling for not to trust Twitter as a viable source, Twitter self has now documented their tweets in a political engagement map. In this map, the tweets are representative of the most popular political issues and highest engagement (Cnet.com). Luckily no blatant statements are made on whoever receive more tweets, is more popular. Because even the people from Twitter know tweeters are not representative of the public.
Social medium Twitter has, like Instagram, many advantages. It’s quick and direct for journalists to use, but people use it to weigh in about major news events as well. There is no platform but Twitter where there exists such a direct connection between the ordinary citizen and the journalist/medium.
Why are they in journalism sometimes afraid of the medium? It has it pitfalls, as like a map like this, Twitter is not representative of public and important is to keep in mind that trending topics on Twitter, are not per se the talk of the town in ‘real life’. The infamous Big Bird comment by Mitt Romney in the first presidential debate might not have attracted that much attention if it wasn’t for the tweeters to play it out.
And this is my problem with Twitter’s Political Engagement Map. What does it really tell you? Whoever tweeters believe did better in the debates? Believe me I have tried to read tweets during debates – because I am apparently I’m missing out, but firstly the tweets are distracting, proving women can’t do two things at the same time; and secondly the tweets are 80% of the time jokes and/or without substance. What do these kind of tweets say about political preferences and opinions? Tracking the political engagement is one thing Twitter is after, however they keep forgetting their users’ demographics do not correspond with the populations. I’m sorry Twitter, I’m not impressed.