A recent article on Black Web 2.0 that black people “run Twitter,” not in the literal sense, but in terms of conversation, language, and topic. I’m actually inclined to agree.
Edison Research released a study April that stated nearly 25 percent of Twitter users were African-American, and black people are only 12 percent of the entire United States population.
As a group, African-Americans have a firm grasp on the way Twitter works, and we influence the overall language of Twitter almost daily. Disagree? Think about this — #SMH (shaking my head, for those who didn’t know) and #np (now playing) aren’t unique to Twitter, but they were almost exclusively used by the black community until the rest of the Twittersphere picked them up.
Twitter lingo like #FML (f*** my life), #MM (Music Monday) , #TT (Truthful Tuesday) and the classic #TGIF, have infiltrated not only the online community, but pop up in text messages, e-mails, and are even vocalized. I was out with a friend a few days ago and overheard to girls having a conversation where they both actually said SMH and FML numerous times.
Trending topics in the United States alone are often started by African-Americans, or contain more tweets from black people. Just yesterday the lovable hash found itself attached to the phrase #youneedanewboyfriend. Earlier that day it hadn’t picked up much steam, but just two hours later there were more than 5,000 posts in the timeline, and more than half of every post came from a black person. This is now the second most popular topic on Twitter across the globe.
On the off chance that there’s a topic we don’t seem to run, chances are it’s because a new topic has been started by one of us. (I’ll never forget the day that I started seeing #twitterafterdark, or #TAD, fill up my timeline).
It’s also worth noting that black people don’t just have massive influence on twitter, but also across most every social media outlet. When I look at many Facebook names now, there is usually some sort of nickname right in the middle of someone’s actual first and last name, yet another thing that seems to have started with black people.
It’s commonplace now for someones name to read John “imatrendsetter” Doe, or for their name to be composed of special characters.
So what’s the big deal? In a way, it’s exciting. African-Americans seem to always be behind when it comes to technology so for us to be the driving force behind something as global as twitter is pretty amazing.
Also, if you think about the historical “digital divide” that left most minorities, especially African-Americans, in the dark, this shift is huge. When home computers and internet connections where big in the 90s, most black households didn’t have computers.
Now that the web is more mobile there is greater input from minorities. It’s rare that you find anyone these days with a cell phone that can’t access the web, and that gives black people a new path into the digital world. It’s no wonder we’re such a massive force on the web.
True, I wish the conversation was a bit more stimulating, but for now it’s cool to know that we are a driving force of social media.
Keep tweeting black people, the Twitterverse is depends on it.