Michigan congressman Pete Hoekstra tweeted on Wednesday: “Iranian twitter activity similar to what we did in House last year when Republicans were shut down in the House,” according to Nymag.com.
First, the important thing to look at in this story is that the “tweet” that has incited so much discussion actually makes very little clear sense. There could be volumes to be said behind what the meaning of what appears to be a simple statement truly is. Needless to say, it was thoughtless at best if his statement is taken at face value.
Twitter has become a phenomena, in many ways, from the Ashton Kutcher vs. Larry King thing, to Terrell Owens having his home appear on the news, to Courtney Love being sued for defamation of character, to the NY Times news room system being bogged down from the use. Twitter has made itself known. Yet, it’s true purpose seems to be unclear at best.
When Kutcher challenged CNN, “The celebrity and the news network are racing to get 1 million followers on the micro-blogging site, where users post 140-character messages,” (Sutter 2009) there was a flurry of comment from both pro-twitter and anti-twitter sides: Should CNN have anything to do with the site? Did active twitterers want either Kucher or King to be the so-called poster boy for twitter?
Now celebs are getting into it. How can the same people who rant about the paparazzi having too much access complain when they put their own business out? “T.O.’s tweets, Owens thought he finally had a home lined up, but was unhappy that his leasing agent provided details about it to the media.” (Stradley 2009) Then how do they solve the problem of managing what info does escape? Yes he may have said he found a house, yes it was wrong for that address to then end up on the news, but now we then want celebs to have no recourse over attempting to get control of their lives back. From TO “@StephStradley i mean, seriously, wht cn i do? tht’ll b sumthin else 4 the media 2 jump on & say it’s my fault! i cn never b innocent! lol” (TO tweet, via Stradley 2009) Just because this man deserves the same privacy as the rest of us he’s in danger of getting sued for saying that the person was wrong in letting that info slip.
Now dear Ms Love, we know you’re not always with it, but still does she deserve to be sued? “In Los Angeles Superior Court, clothes designer Dawn Simorangkir, also known as Boudoir Queen, last Thursday filed suit against Love for defamation, invasion of privacy and infliction of emotional distress for “an extensive rant” on Twitter about how she was billed for custom clothing.” (Gardner 2009) Maybe Simorangkir did not meet her promises, or had lousy service, am I now in danger of getting sued if I say the lady at Mc Donald’s was rude?
Even news outposts are no longer safe from Twitter, in a story of the NY Times, the new room computer system is being dragged down by Twitter access. “The Nieman Journalism Lab obtained an internal memo on the topic. It warns that some “computer performance problems that have been traced to TweetDeck,” an application for accessing Twitter” (Tate 2009)
In many ways Twitter is precisely what our attention spans have been boiled down to via hours of reality TV. If you can’t fit it in 140 characters, we may not have time for it. But, that still doesn’t mean that we have the ability to understand the power, that giving every schmo a voice gives. The written word still holds an amazing power, we tend to take any thing written as tried and true fact. Not to mention that now the world can quote you directly even if what you said was less than well thought out.
Sutter, John Ashton Kutcher challenges CNN to Twitter Contest April 15, 2009 http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/04/15/ashton.cnn.twitter.battle/
Stradley, Stephanie Tweeting with T.O. on Twitter Defamation June 18 2009
Gardner, Eriq Courtney Love sued for Twitter defamation March 30, 2009 http://www.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idUSTRE52R00020090331
Tate, Ryan Twitter Addicts Bringing Down New York Times Computers June 3, 2009 http://gawker.com/5277836/twitter-addicts-bringing-down-new-york-times-computers