Why Twitter is so important, even if you don’t use it

Since the acquisition of Twitter by Elon Musk, the future of the social network has been discussed by many. Twitter has a lower popularity than Facebook, Instagram or the latest trending services like TikTok, but Twitter is the most important social network in the world.

Source: Alexander Shatov for Unsplash

The tech world has been actively discussing Twitter’s future since billionaire Elon Musk bought the social network. And for good reason, it is undoubtedly the most important social network in the world.

However, if we look at the numbers for January 2022, Twitter has “only” 436 million active users, far behind Facebook (2.9 billion), Instagram (1.48 billion), TikTok (1 billion) or even Snapchat ( 557 million).

So why is Twitter so prominent in discussions? It’s not always popularity that makes a service valuable.

Who’s on Twitter?

It is only necessary to ask people around us to discover that there are few Twitter users and even less active users. It’s not a social network that seems important to the general public and that’s what may be surprising about the place Twitter has taken.

In fact, it is mainly about the population that we see on Twitter, but also about its use. Politicians, journalists, media, public figures and brand accounts must be present.

If you work in one of these circles, you know that a Twitter account is often part of a person’s business card, more so than a Facebook account, for example, and even a dedicated LinkedIn account. in the professional world.

Fact-checking link added by Twitter under Trump's post
Twitter adds fact-checking link to Donald Trump’s tweets // Source: Screenshot

This number of users makes Twitter valuable and the moderation policy and future can have a powerful impact. The 2016 election in the United States was played in part by Donald Trump’s popularity on Twitter.

We can even reduce Twitter to 100,000 users and it will still be the most important social network in the world if it is the one where we can find the heads of state, the biggest companies in the world and the most influential people .

The social network for official announcements

As we said, journalists and the media have invested heavily in Twitter since its inception. The reason lies in the speed with which information (or fake news) spreads in the social network.

For a journalist, it is obvious that there is a need to know the latest news as soon as possible. There is nothing better than Twitter today to keep informed in real time on world events.

One of the last examples before taking the platform was undoubtedly the death of the Queen of England. It was through tweets at the BBC or atAFP that the world had confirmations of his state of health. Incidentally, it is also thanks to the certification system that we can ensure the validity of the accounts of these two media, a subject of controversy since arriving at the helm of Elon Musk.

Another good example, on a less serious topic, is Instagram’s communication about the blackout on October 31, 2022, which was mainly done on Twitter. However, Instagram belongs to the same group as Facebook, but it is towards Twitter that we naturally go for this relationship with brands. The social network is also often used as an after-sales support by brands, sometimes with an account dedicated to this aspect.

Freedom of speech

Unlike a private Facebook group or a Discord server, Twitter is a megaphone offered to everyone. It is natural that the social network has become the platform of choice for free speech on sensitive topics in some cases.

The most famous of these moments is of course the American #MeToo followed by the French version of #BalanceTonPorc which has shed light on the many testimonies about the toxic behaviors of men and highlights a problem of the magnitude of all societies. Public denunciations have become common over everything from tracking the private jets of billionaires.

Private messages on Twitter, DMs, have also become one of the easiest ways for journalists to collect the beginnings of testimonials on a research topic.

A question of democracy

Through its importance in politics and the world of media, Twitter becomes a real issue of democracy. It is not for nothing that the network has promised to hold back its changes before the 2022 US elections.

It is for these reasons that it is particularly important to observe the changes that Elon Musk has made to the platform. This is not just about the future of an unpopular website or social network. It is a service that we can now see many flaws and can have a real impact on the world through its influence.

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