in politics, social networks

Twitter isn’t as impartial as some expect

They’re on our turf now, not the airwaves.

via Moneyball for Votes | Jason Putorti.

Jason Putorti made this comment 3 days ago. I just read the post. The context is that Politicians have been spending massive amounts of money on print, TV and direct advertisements without caring about talking to their voters and having a real relationship with their constituents. That way, the politician with the most money wins because they cast the widest net on the most sources. He goes on to point that this is not longer the case because of the growth of the Internet and specifically, Twitter.

Jason’s claim is right in the fact that twitter, Facebook and other social media allow voters to get in touch with their local candidates and to get their voice heard. But Jason forgot something. Most social media as of now is like a newspaper. The earning that these both sides of the Fourth Estate are doing are coming from advertisements. Advertisements, of course, require a lot of money. That means that it’s not entirely impossible for a newspaper to twist words or place advertisements in a way to favor a particular candidate. The same is true for twitter. Anyone can go out to twitter to pay for a particular way of advertising. This can be aggressive – to focus ads on people in a particular area or who tweet about certain topics or defensive – to snub out tweets about certain topics by using a way best described as tweet sliding – bringing tweeting more about a certain topic in order to drown out another.

As of today, I know only one social network – App.net which is impartial towards any particular advertising because they do not have any advertising at all. The entire network is funded by its users. I hope this network stays exactly like that, because expecting that Facebook and Twitter will be impartial, is extremely naive.