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06th Jan 2017

‘Twitter In Ireland Is Now A Place Of Hate, Fake News And Negativity’


I’ve been having reservations about Twitter as a way of spending my time for the last year. 

My usage has certainly plummeted of late. Although, along with many power users, after nine years, 60,000 tweets and 25,000 followers, it is hard to walk away. 

Like someone who holds out for the magic of those blissful first few months of a relationship, I long to go back to the early days but logging in, I am confronted with a mixture of negativity, venomous opinions and Donald Trump related news. 

Put in the simplest possible terms, Twitter is no longer what I signed up for. 

While the malaise has been growing around Twitter as a whole, the chickens came home to roost yesterday on the service in Ireland. It all started with the ill-advised Irish Times piece about the ‘alt right’, which produced a cacophony of negative feedback. The vast majority of it coming via Twitter. 

The outrage was palpable and rightly so. Users rushed to outdo each other with expressions of contempt. Competing media organisations immediately leapt to outdo each other in dancing on the Irish Times’ grave as they chased a slice of those all-important clicks. 

Throw in a bunch of American fascists, newly set up fake accounts and liberals clashing and Twitter suddenly became as respectable as Harcourt Street at 4am on a Saturday morning. 

The biggest problem with Twitter today is the same one that is sweeping cyberspace at large… fake news and anonymity. Extracting the truth from a maelstrom of noisy vitriol is becoming an increasingly thankless and futile task. 

For every disgusting Harry Arter incident, where the perpetrator is called out and sanctioned, there are 1,000 hateful tweets sent crushing people inside and doing untold mental damage. 

People might say that they have thick skin but when your life is being threatened or the colour of your skin is being laughed at, even 140 characters can have life-changing effects. 

Personally, I get a small amount of that abuse and it just adds another tick to the “move on from Twitter” column in my head. Instagram and Snapchat might mostly feature pictures of brunch, friends dancing and videos of celebrities but they come without the hate, negativity and aggression you find on Twitter. 

I find myself opening up Twitter these days thinking “who are the mob going to be attacking today?”, “what personal abuse will I get today?” or “what are people going to be outraged at Donald Trump for today?”. 

Were it not for the fact that I use Twitter for my work, I’d be long gone. Despite the rise of fake news, it is still the best place to find stories and to capture genuine breaking news. 

It used to be so much more. A community of like minded people. It even lived up to that horrible Silicon Valley phrase of ‘making the world a better place’ at times. 

Now though, it just reflects society as a whole by being fractured and divided. For the last year, we thought this sort of venom would just play out over in the USA or in hacker’s bedrooms in Russia but as yesterday shows, we are now all very much living in this new post truth world. 

It really is sad to see Twitter on a life support machine, helping to do so much harm and spreading so much hate. 

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