What is ‘Black Twitter’ in 400 Words?

‘Black Twitter’ is a term described well by Donovan X. Ramsey in his article for the Atlantic as, “a large network of black Twitter users and their loosely coordinated interactions, many of which accumulate into trending topics due to the network’s size, interconnectedness, and unique activity.”

Social media websites like Twitter, provide a platform that creates space for its users to curate their own networks of like-minded people. People with similar interests, people in similar professions or who people who share political views.

Due to these coordinated interactions, much like how sub-cultures are formed, Twitter is divided into many sub-networks that occupy space and find their own unique ways of utilising the social media platform’s many features. Ways in which Twitter becomes more than just a social network, but an information network as well.

Black Twitter – the sub-network that this report is centered around – focuses primarily on issues of interest to the (global) black community, a marginalized community that repeatedly suffers from either a lack of representation or misrepresentation in mainstream media. For the purpose of this report I will be focusing on examples of this in British media.

As well as using Twitter to share information, resources and interests amongst the community – Black Twitter has been particularly successful in coming together to challenge the mainstream media for its lack of diversity and representation in order to push for visible change, particularly using a form of social media activism that is often described as “call-out culture”, defined as “the act of drawing attention to problematic behavior” for the sake of accountability.

Black Twitter’s user generated content is also similarly ground-breaking. Ramsey also adds that, Black Twitter is the “network largely responsible for focusing the nation’s attention to the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August. Witnesses to Brown’s killing broke the news via social media.”

The mainstream media was not covering the issues around state violence against marginalised communities in enough depth, if any at all, and this is how hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter were born. Once again Black Twitter is holding power to account.

When it comes to political and cultural commentary, much of what can be seen in Black Twitter is strong micro-Journalism or micro-blogging. The spirit behind it is one of solidarity and it says “if the mainstream media won’t represent us or if they continue to address black issues in manners that are laced with prejudice and racism, then we will take matters into our own hands by representing and educating ourselves.”