Twitter and the Paradox of Following and Trending

José van Dijck

in The Culture of Connectivity

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199970773
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199307425 | DOI:
Twitter and the Paradox of Following and Trending

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The fourth chapter traces the transformation of Twitter, the microblogging platform that started in 2006. The platform aimed to be an autonomous utility service promoting user connectedness, but gradually transmuted into an information network exploiting user connectivity. Twitter’s history revolves around a double paradox: first, the functions of following and trending presume a neutral technological infrastructure where all users are equal and all content is carried indiscriminately. In practice, Twitter’s filtering mechanisms inscribe more weight to some twitterers and tweets, thus promoting the creation of big followings and popular trends. Second, Twitter presents its network as an online “town hall” for networked communication, but the platform has manifested itself as a potent instrument for manipulating opinions. In light of this paradox, we need to interpret how Twitter changed its initial ambitions from wanting to be a “utility” to becoming an “information networking company.” Using instruments like predictive analytics, the site increasingly aims at capitalizing the flow of tweets rushing though its veins

Keywords: Twitter; microblogging; predictive analytics; affective economics; following; trending

Chapter.  9030 words. 

Subjects: Sociology

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