“This entity called Twitter, this YouTube, this Facebook, they have shaken families to their roots … I don’t understand how people of good sense could defend this Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There are all kinds of lies there.” – Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan reacting to international protests against his government blocking Twitter
In the meantime, Twitter users have asked the social network for easier options to report such abuse.
In my opinion, rape threats are beyond the pale. Rape is not funny. Threatening sexualized violence on a person because of a disagreement is just wrong—it is never justifiable. In the offline world, it is a real problem causing massive suffering and traumatization every day for its survivors.
Please people, do not threaten to rape people on Twitter (or anywhere else) if you are a decent human being.
On Twitter, the RNC implies that racism in America “ended” with Rosa Parks, fifty-eight years ago
Fifty-eight years, ago (counted back from 2013), on December 1, 1955, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, a black woman from Montgomery, Alabama, refused to step to the back of a bus to sit down in the ‘colored section,’ marking the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott to end segregationist laws in the U.S.
The Civil Rights Movement according to the RNC
This year, the Republican National Committee sort of stepped in it with a tweet that suggested racism in America ended after Rosa Parks. As Politicususa reports, the tweet said:
Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in ending racism.
That statement is very questionable, to say the least. The pronouncement of the end of racism in America is premature today, and would have been even more so by orders of magnitude almost sixty years ago.
Racism is alive and well
I would like to mention just a few issues to illustrate this reality: The Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case, the level of hostility against President Obama that goes way beyond any reasonable (and deserved!) criticism of his administration’s policies, and countless stories about harassment and excessive use of force by the police, in particular against people of color.
We, ahem, misspoke
The RNC then deleted the tweet above and replaced it with this one:
Previous tweet should have read “Today we remember Rosa Parks’ bold stand and her role in fighting to end racism.”
To be fair, everyone can make mistakes in social media. But the GOP and the RNC are not just “Joe Sixpack” who happens to have a smartphone to tweet from.
Ending racism with voter ID laws?
In the past election cycles, the GOP has been actively working to make voting harder for (poor) people of color and other demographic groups who would likely support Democrats by implementing various voter ID laws (see here, here, and here). In this light, the RNC’s honoring of Rosa Parks and their very loose interpretation of civil rights history might be seen much more cynically.
You can watch a discussion of the issue from the progressive talk show Majority Report with Sam Seder here:
Dass die sozialen Medien nicht nur neue, emanzipatorische Partizipationsmöglichen im Netz ermöglichen, hat zum Beispiel der Netztheoretiker Evgeny Morozov in seinem Buch “The Net Delusion” ausführlich dargestellt.
Über Plattformen wie Twitter und Facebook wird seitens von Regierungen und Großunternehmen mittlerweile versucht, die öffentliche Meinung manipulativ zu beeinflussen.
Ein Beispiel für ersteres gibt es jetzt aus Südkorea. Dort haben nach Berichten im Vorfeld der Präsidentschaftswahl der Inlandsgeheimdienst und das Verteidigungsministerium rund 24,2 Mio. Tweets verschickt, um die öffentliche Meinung zu steuern.
Der Inlandsgeheimdienst NIS (National Intelligence Service) soll 1,2 Mio. Tweets gesendet haben, um die Opposition zu diskreditieren. Die Abteilung Cyberwarfare des Verteidigungsministeriums soll 23 Mio. Tweets verschickt haben, um die öffentliche Meinung im Sinne des aktuellen Präsidenten Park Geun-hye zu beeinflussen.
House Republicans Announce On Twitter To Vote Against Obamacare For The 37th Time
The politics of obstructionism continued (Episode 37)
Because opposing the Obama administration’s Affordable Healthcare Act, better known as Obamacare for thirty-six times was not enough for House Republicans, they recently announced that they would vote to repeal it for the thirty-seventh (!) time.
Twitter battles as a new normal form of political communication
So far, so predictable. But here is where it gets interesting. In this age of ubiquitous social media technologies, leading politicians in the US—years ahead in this regard to, let’s say, German politicians— feel the need to engage in Twitter battles. Sometimes hilarity ensues.
“The House will vote next week for a full repeal of #Obamacare.”
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) then attempted to hype it up a little more with the hashtag #ObamaCareInThreeWords
To which the White House replied:
“It’s. The. Law.”
Well-played, sir. Well-played.
But the fact that large parts of the Affordable Care Act are right now being implemented is not clear to everybody at the moment. According to NPR, a new poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly half of Americans do not currently know that the Affordable Healthcare Act is the law of the land.
Symbolic politics versus the 113th Congress in numbers
Unless Republicans in the Senate can convince a substantial number of Democrats to join them in voting against the Affordable Healthcare Act, the repeal they seek will not happen any time soon. As of May 2013, the distribution of seats in the 113th Congress is as follows: House: 233 (R), 201 (D); Senate: 55 (D) (53 (D)+ 2 (I)), 45 (R)
Maybe in the end, this is much ado about nothing. Still, it gives us an insight into how the new social media technologies are now being put to use for symbolic politics. In a way, they have joined their older peers of AM talk radio and cable television in the US.