Twitter Impact: From Academia to the Everyday Citizen



Twitter has made a huge impact among the academic field as well as the everyday citizen. A recent study from UCLA and Hewlett-Packard mentioned that the most well received tweets come from the Twitter accounts of established websites (i.e. New York Times, CNN, etc) discussing popular companies or institutions. The term "social networking" tends to imply that getting news from a friend, regardless of the inclusion of a source, would resonate the same as hearing it from an established site. According to this study, that's not the case.

When I come across a friend mentioning a story, I'll reply or retweet him or her to give proper credit. In addition, I always make sure to retweet the story from a recognized source  It's not because I don't trust the person who originally mentioned the story. It's more that I don't expect my followers to know (or trust) that person. Retweeting the story as reported from a respected source helps to keep my credibility with my followers that or may not know anything about my other followers.

Beyond academia, Twitter has also affected govermnents and its citizens. Sweden has been handing its official @Sweden Twitter account to a different citizen every week. Naturally, some gaffes have occurred. But check out how they've handled it:

From the NY Times on Sunday:


“I wanted to show that I’m often kind of immature and often kind of stupid and so is this country, and I bet you are, too, and so are a lot of people around the world,” Mr. Werner, 23, said in a telephone interview. “It’s much more interesting than saying things like, ‘Look at these fabulous pictures of nature.’ ”


An update to the NY Times story on Tuesday shows that Sweden is not deleting any tweet that may be offensive. Instead, Sweden is using the opportunity as a teachable moment.  After one of the Swedish twitter users, Ms. Abrahamsson, faced backlash for posting a tweet that offended people of Jewish decent, the following exchange occured:


The immediate backlash against her comments prompted Ms. Abrahamsson less than an hour later to write that, being from rural Sweden, she did not know many Jews and she apologized “if some of you find the question offensive.”

“Thats was not my purpose,” she added, appearing to explain herself. “I just don’t get why some people hates jews so much.”


Boom! Now that's how you handle controversy - embrace it head on and try to learn from it.  This is the only way to bring technology forward because controversy is inevitable. Congratulations to Sweden for taking this project on!