Twitter takes the top of the social media pile as the unofficial king of short-form communication. The political, social, and semantic discussions and distinct personalities behind the tweets prove to be much more engaging than what you might find on your average group text or Facebook post. Of the users adding their 140 characters to the conversation, those contributing to the phenomenon affectionately known as Black Twitter are the decisive winners in the game of social media thrones. The Pew Research Center released a report that speaks to the origins and the estimated reach of Black Twitter by outlining statistical data collected on social media usage and engagement amongst young, college-educated, and higher-income social media consumers of African descent.

About 11% of Twitter users are Black, according to a 2018 Pew Research analysis. But even the company itself has acknowledged the outsized influence they have had on former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said that #BlackTwitter is “such a powerful force.” A 2014 Pew study showed that Black people spent more time on the social site — 22% of Black internet users accessed Twitter at high levels, compared with 16% of White ones. the platform.

Black Twitter is all-important to the group, as the conversation helps cement the hashtag as a cultural artefact recognisable in the minds of Black Twitter participants and individuals with no knowledge of the initial discussion”. In recent years, the community has been vital to the blacks in response to police violence against Black people. The hashtags #BlackLivesMatter, #ICantBreathe, and #SayHerName flooded the site after the deaths of Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor, respectively.

 Twitter’s board earlier last month accepted billionaire Elon Musk’s offer to buy the social media company and take it private at $54.20 per share, his “best and final.” He has also been debating about “Free speech” as the bedrock of a functioning democracy on Twitter, where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated. Musk has a history of contentious tweets, but his Gadde post fuelled concerns about the Tesla chief executive’s idea of free speech in some quarters. The question is, Will it come at the cost of protecting Twitter users from abuse, cyberbullying, and extremist content? Black Twitter users, along with other minorities, are worried that the floodgates are about to be swung open for harassment, abuse, and plenty of Twitter Inc.’s left-leaning users are already howling at the Musk deal.

There is a scenario where Elon Musk, the founder of a company that California is suing for allegedly silencing thousands of Black employees who complained about racism, is buying a company that has given millions of Black people a megaphone-like voice to complain about racism.  This gives the blacks a slight chance of survival on the platform.  But the potential for the platform to lose many of its Black users or #BlackTwitter to those in the know could mean financial blowback for the company, which saw its social media app grow to prominence at least partly because of the cultural and social-justice discourse that Black users made.

Anthony Tilghman

Anthony Tilghman, is an 3x Award-winning Photojournalist, Education advocate, Mentor, and Published Author with years of experience in media, photography, marketing and branding. He is the Winner of the...

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