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October 20, 2019

Twitter Moments and How to Cite Tweets

Twitter may have started off as a quirky social media platform, but since its initial creation in 2006 it has been able to captivate more than the youngest generations. In 2012, over one hundred million users sent out three hundred and forty million tweets a day. In 2013, the platform was hailed as one of the top ten most visited websites. In recent months, however, Twitter has been attempting to reform its look from a dorky online internet thought bubble generator into a valuable source of information. I mean, with the hypocrisy of the media giants at an all time high and trust in news corporations at an all time low, it would seem only natural that internet hubs like YouTube and Twitter would attempt to chip into a possible market of disgruntled readers and journalists alike. 

Sometime last year, Twitter launched a gimmick they called “Moments”, which essentially took major headlines from all genres of news and collected anywhere between five to twenty tweets about the topic in order to ‘better inform’ people about what was going on in the world. With Twitter users all over the world, there’s bound to be some intriguing opinions and dialogue within the so-called “tweetosphere”. When this was initially launched, many users had their complaints. Twitter wasn’t created as a news organization, and thus it shouldn’t try to dabble in the subject’s field. However, the corporation attempted to stress how Twitter wasn’t trying to become a news organization; it was simply trying to get readers interested in the news.

Our own curators do not act as reporters or creators of original content; instead, they organize and present compelling content that already exists on Twitter in a straightforward, easy-to-consume way.

Essentially, Twitter wanted the world to know that “hey, we really haven’t ever tried this before”. While most news articles these days are written in a fourth grade reading level, Twitter offered a way to read diverse thoughts – as long as all of them were in 140 characters or less.

Twitter Moments Advertisement

An Advertisement for Twitter Moments.

Eventually, however, Twitter Moments fell down into the abyss. For an extensive part of a year, the new addition to the app was prominently centered at the bottom of their navigation bar. It was updated frequently, and it actually became an easy way for Twitter users to be informed on the news that the app wanted them to be interested in. I believe that would be the key distinction of how it began to sour. It wasn’t perfect by any means, and it didn’t cover every topic with any sorts of in-depth detail. Many Moments fell into utterly stupid tweet storms on celebrity gossip and other cultish ways of perceiving the wealthy. Plus, as Twitter initially claimed, the curators of the app’s new feature basically didn’t do any research at all. They went through and grabbed random – usually already popular – tweets to get different angles on things. Whether those angles were right or wrong didn’t matter.

Not necessarily every idea that the Twitter corporation has is golden, and Moments – albeit better than many of their previous ideas that they’ve thrown around – didn’t really end up needing to stay on the front cover of Twitter’s new launch into news. They opened up the once-curator-only feature so that anyone could create their own set of Moments to share with their followers and possibly advertise to the masses; and they replaced the center stage of their navigation to an “Explore” page that  highlights trending topics and allows anyone to search through a more vastly populated – and overall biased – network of Moments created by users and staff alike.

Although Twitter Moments wasn’t exactly the greatest thing that the platform could have pushed out to make their users happy, it has allowed them to enter in the news business rather subtly. With our 71 year old president using social media to attack the free press and to use name-calling ad hominem against a rather public “enemy list”, it seems as if history will have to remember Twitter as a presence towards not only gimmicky social media, but also as an influence on politics. So, I think its time to remind the world that (since 2012) you’ve had the ability to cite tweets in MLA format in any academic paper!

Last Name, First Name (User Name). “The tweet in its entirety.” Date, Time. Tweet.

A great example:

Trump, Donald (realDonaldTrump). “Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,it’s not your fault” 8 May 2013, 9:37 PM. Tweet.

So, there you have it! Since Twitter is more expansive and holds more opinionated thoughts than any current news program, anyone should be able to quote what people have to say about any topic in academic papers, books, and blog articles. Meanwhile, you can follow me on Twitter @publishingminds and check out some more of Donald Trump’s horrifyingly funny social media disasters here on the site.

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