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Black people tweet like THIS
August 10, 2010 4:13 PM   Subscribe

How do black people use Twitter? Why is Twitter more popular with black people? (The Root asks, "Really?") What were black people talking about on Twitter last night?

Tangentially related: Gizmodo explains why you should stalk sexy black women on Twitter. Feministing responds to Gizmodo, and postbourgie responds to both of them.
posted by desjardins (95 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
"At the risk of getting randomly harshed on by the Internet, I cannot keep quiet about my obsession with Late Night Black People Twitter, an obsession I know some of you other white people share, because it is awesome."

Oh. Oh, my.
posted by ColdChef at 4:19 PM on August 10, 2010


Kill all these white people. Seriously.
posted by cavalier at 4:26 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


[sarcasm]When did black people discover the internet? I thought this was a whites only technology? [/sarcasm]
posted by Fizz at 4:26 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every day, whether I want to or not, I read at least one thing on the internet that makes me feel stupider for having read it. Today it was that article in The Awl.
posted by The Card Cheat at 4:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm white and I want to kill myself.

Granted, for unrelated reasons. But, still.
posted by Azazel Fel at 4:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously. SERIOUSLY?!

I feel sad now.
posted by jnrussell at 4:41 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


For serious?
posted by chunking express at 4:41 PM on August 10, 2010


... the type of checking-people-out-online that we all do... I don't stalk, I creep.

[from the Feministing link]

I wouldn't have guessed that "creeping" is as common as she says.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:43 PM on August 10, 2010


Also, Joel Johnson's followup to the linked article is worth a read. It's a nice break from all the stupid on the Internet. It always weirds me out that he writes for Gizmodo of all places.
posted by chunking express at 4:51 PM on August 10, 2010


I don't think the question is why do Black people tweet, but why do they disproportionately make up the posters of high-trending hashtags? That's the only place I see any real difference in racial representation.

Actually, no, the question is why should I give a fuck? Who cares?
posted by Netzapper at 4:51 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


According to the behavior patterns described by Slate, I'm mostly black.
posted by desuetude at 4:53 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wait, so you mean to say that white people exotify, other, and self segregate then turn around and fixate on black folks' lives in a new medium?!? WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED?!?!

Snark aside, as a moderator in a couple of closed communities that deal with race issues, it's really interesting the number of folks who demand to be let in because they feel entitled to hear other people talk about and work through their issues - which mostly boils down to a childish greedy fear, you know, that the black peeple (and other coloreds) are keeping the good internets all to themselves.

Or something.
posted by yeloson at 4:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


White people tweet likes THIS and black people tweet like DIS.
posted by wcfields at 4:58 PM on August 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


wat
posted by jquinby at 4:58 PM on August 10, 2010


Black people—specifically, young black people—do seem to use Twitter differently from everyone else on the service. They form tighter clusters on the network—they follow one another more readily, they retweet each other more often, and more of their posts are @-replies—posts directed at other users. It's this behavior, intentional or not, that gives black people—and in particular, black teenagers—the means to dominate the conversation on Twitter.

Er, that would appear to be fairly common Twitter behavior for anyone, wouldn't it?

Though I am unsure from the article whether hating fucking stupid hashtag memes makes me a racist.
posted by Artw at 5:00 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I get the impression that each these articles means something different when they talk about "black people."
posted by Electrius at 5:01 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


If the trending topics hashtag is an indication of how populated Twitter is, then nerds are weirdly underrepresented in the whole of Twitter and overrepresented amoung my Twitter contacts. Because every day brings a new bounty of nerdlish hashtags, like #ifshakespearewereklingon and #misquotedsf.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:02 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


I liked the part where the feminist made a generalization about male tech writers.
posted by shii at 5:07 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Actually, 25% is ten times higher than blacks' population proportion nationwide. 2.5% of Canadians are black.

Oh, wait, you must have been referring to the US. Then FUCKING SAY SO.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:09 PM on August 10, 2010 [10 favorites]


Also, that Slate article, talking about overthinking a plate of beans.

1. Social networks have a starting population that is determined by unknowable factors.
2. People tend to use social software that their friends are already using.
3. People tend to have friends of the same race that they are.

Assuming that the "starting population" in (1) contained a good proportion of Blacks, which is not unreasonable, then it makes sense (2, 3) that the present population would have a larger-than-expected population of Blacks.
posted by Electrius at 5:09 PM on August 10, 2010


Black people—specifically, young black people—do seem to use Twitter differently from everyone else on the service. They form tighter clusters on the network.

What does that even mean? Lots of people just following each other reciprocally, without following anyone outside the "group"? I guess that could be tested. Pity the author hasn't.

—they follow one another more readily

Really? Evidence? I guess you could count up the mean number of people black people follow, and compare it to the mean number of people white people follow. Pity the author hasn't.

they retweet each other more often

See above. This is just what happens on Twitter.

and more of their posts are @-replies—posts directed at other users.

And again. Seriously. This is called "using a main feature of the service".

It's this behavior, intentional or not, that gives black people—and in particular, black teenagers—the means to dominate the conversation on Twitter.

If your conversation on Twitter is being dominated by black teenagers you aren't following, then you're probably using it wrong. As far as I've ever been able to tell, trending topics on Twitter are usually dominated by whatever sporting event is happening at that moment.
posted by Jimbob at 5:11 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


They form tighter clusters on the network—they follow one another more readily, they retweet each other more often, and more of their posts are @-replies

This pattern is definitely true of mefites, at least the ones I follow. Sometimes I'll forget how incestuous my follower list is. I'll make a personalized comment to one person, and get a bunch of @ replies. But, see, imagine there were a couple million mefites. We could easily take over a trending topic in this fashion - someone I follow starts a conversation, I reply, non-mefites I follow reply to that, etc. The topic just needs to be generic enough.

If the trending topics hashtag is an indication of how populated Twitter is, then nerds are weirdly underrepresented in the whole of Twitter and overrepresented amoung my Twitter contacts. Because every day brings a new bounty of nerdlish hashtags, like #ifshakespearewereklingon and #misquotedsf.

But the population of nerds is necessarily limited by their knowledge of nerdy things and their willingness to discuss them. I wouldn't know what to add to a conversation about Klingon. I could conceivably add to #idontbelieveit or #inmiddleschool or #wheniwaslittle (all current trending topics as of this comment). Those topics transcend race no matter where they originated.
posted by desjardins at 5:17 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


As a non-white person, it's topics like this that make me want to FLEE THE AREA.

I want to hope that the topics are getting good discussion but honestly, this kind of framing is rife with the possibilities of ending up being called (a) Token (b) Docent (c) Hysterical or (d) Militant.

As a good little MeFite, I want to do my share of flagging and moving on, but my cynical side says that there are not enough flags. It's like the IP v4 address space is full. Only it's race-relations.
posted by kalessin at 5:22 PM on August 10, 2010 [11 favorites]


Lots of people just following each other reciprocally, without following anyone outside the "group"? I guess that could be tested. Pity the author hasn't.

From the article: Nevertheless, Brendan Meeder thinks he's got a good hypothesis about what's going on. Meeder, a Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon University, has downloaded the tweets of more than 100 million users. (Twitter gave him special permission to do so for research purposes.) He's been probing this collection to see how Twitter users interact with one another; he's particularly interested in how trends begin and spread through a social network. While analyzing his database a few months ago, Meeder noticed something strange—he found a cluster of hundreds of users whose profiles were connected to one another. When he looked up the users, he noticed that a lot of them were black.

Anyway, this is pretty easy to do, there are already tools out there and I'm sure someone can whip up a script to automate a whole batch. Here's a diagram of the overlap between me and cortex. We have 63 friends in common, which is a LOT considering he only follows 148 people.
posted by desjardins at 5:25 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


This thread is nothing until we have a token representative of the Black Community post their thoughts.

Seriously though. This is a really uncomfortable topic - not because of the subjects, but because of the way the media/blog empires are behaving. It exposes how much they like drawing lines of segregation, how lazy writers are and how unsocialized a fair few people with power are when it comes to mixing with people of different skin pigments and cultural backgrounds.

Questions this topic raises for me:

- how do you know someone is black if they're not posting photos of themselves or aren't famous?

- similarly, how do we know the people gathering the statistics aren't confusing African Americans with visually similar, but culturally different people? And why is the term "black" being used without definition?

- why should anyone care what a racial group are doing? Why is this interesting? Are these articles aimed at marketing people or are they trying to create a freakshow out of a bunch of Twitter users?

- "New data confirms that Twitter's population is disproportionately black.
According to Edison Research's annual report on Twitter, black people represent 25% of Twitter users, roughly twice their share of the population in general
" - why is this being called disproportionate when the international population of the internet has no comparison value to the real world? Especially with the implication that this is being compared to American culture only.

I could go on, but I won't, because this is an icky icky subject. It's like putting your hand onto a stair rail and finding chewed gum on the underside. It boils down to gross generalisation and treats a certain section of people like they're not part of our community, and people need to cut it out. Fast.

Oh, and Joel Johnson? Shame on you. Get off your high horse and maybe you wouldn't have to stalk people on the internet for more diversity in your life.
posted by saturnine at 5:27 PM on August 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


kalessin, I tried to use actual words from the articles instead of imposing my own framing - I would welcome constructive criticism in the thread, or if there is something more pointed you would like to say, my memail is open.
posted by desjardins at 5:27 PM on August 10, 2010


Compare Black People On Twitter to True Conservatives On Twitter (hashtag #tcot) and they don't seem nearly as bad. Twitter is truly an Equal Opportunity Idiocy Facilitator.
posted by oneswellfoop at 5:29 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


But the population of nerds is necessarily limited by their knowledge of nerdy things and their willingness to discuss them.

I'm sure that's an exaggeration. I'm not a nerd and I can tell you Spock's serial number is S179276SP, from the episode Court Martial.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:29 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh my God. I'm a nerd.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:29 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


desjardins, I think I feel we are not ready for discussions that frame black people as potentially them (as in us versus them). The black people and the other non-white people are right here among us, and the quoting of other people's framing still made that sense and sensibility stick with me in your post.

It is totally up to you how you frame (or let framing happen) on posts about social phenomena, but I do not think I myself would have chosen the approach that you did.
posted by kalessin at 5:30 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


SMH at this.
posted by decagon at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


P.S. by "not ready" I mean I should refer you to the remark recently made by wcfields. It is remarks like these that make me feel like the flagging address space is already full or that there are not enough flags. And it's likely that wcfields will think I am completely overreacting and didn't mean anything by it. It was probably just a silly joke. But still.
posted by kalessin at 5:33 PM on August 10, 2010


I intend my @fffish account to be exclusively mefi. I guess that makes me a black twitter user.

Strange that people are so highly aware of race and sex in a text medium.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:34 PM on August 10, 2010


It's like: why are there so many Brazilian people on Orkut? These technologies are all driven by network effects -- they spread very rapidly when mapping out preexisting social networks, so their overall composition is extremely path dependent in the short term. They consist of the networks that have infiltrated them.
posted by grobstein at 5:37 PM on August 10, 2010 [7 favorites]


Also, the Gizmodo article has just got to be intentional trolling on a grand scale. The guy wouldn't have given it the title he did otherwise. Unless he genuinely felt that people were going to be okay with it or something, but I really cannot conceive of the mental state of someone who would think that.
posted by decagon at 5:38 PM on August 10, 2010


kalessin, wcfields may have been riffing on my choice of a title, or s/he may have come up with his/her comment independently. I meant the title ironically, because the phrase "___ people do X like this, ___ people do X like that" has become fairly common around here to highlight ridiculous examples of stereotyping. Example post, comment, another
posted by desjardins at 5:45 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know how you feel when you're in a group of people and one of them makes a racist joke? And you stand there, feeling awkward, wanting to say something but not really sure how to phrase it, making a mental note to not hang around with them anymore?

That's how I feel reading the slate article.
posted by phunniemee at 5:52 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else remember when MySpace was declared a "digital ghetto" because all the white people left? I can't blame kalessin for not wanting to comment extensively on this. This discussion about non-white people in social media, especially African Americans, is absolutely batshit insane and very rarely actually talks to the people involved.
posted by saturnine at 5:52 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


Actually, 25% is ten times higher than blacks' population proportion nationwide. 2.5% of Canadians are black.

Oh, wait, you must have been referring to the US. Then FUCKING SAY SO.


You go, young Canuck. Do you chime in every time there is some blithe States-centric post on a story THAT COULDN'T BE MORE OBVIOUSLY ABOUT THE US?
posted by Roachbeard at 5:54 PM on August 10, 2010 [6 favorites]


I once overheard a White person describe MySpace as "ghetto." Assuming that Twitter is even on their radar at all, I wonder how long it'll be before they describe it the same way. Is this some kind of high tech "there goes the neighborhood" thng?
posted by fuse theorem at 5:56 PM on August 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually, a bunch of artists and bands moved into Myspace a couple years ago and really cleaned the pace up. There's a project going down right now, converting a lot of the old apartments condos, and I hear that by next year it'll be nothing but yuppies.

Gentrification works on the internet, too, right?
posted by phunniemee at 6:02 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


why should anyone care what a racial group are doing? Why is this interesting? Are these articles aimed at marketing people or are they trying to create a freakshow out of a bunch of Twitter users? (saturnine)

I found myself really inexplicably angry about this comment, and it took me a while to figure out why: because science should not be censored by our social delicacies. Yes, people are jerks, and some subjects attract jerks more than others. That's a reason to handle it more carefully, not to stop.

One of my favorite scientific missions was the one given to the PEAR institution at Princeton in 1979 to scientifically investigate remote viewing and psychokinesis. It ran until 2007, producing some marginally significant data but mostly proving that whatever was happening, if anything, was nowhere near reliable enough for practical applications.

That sounds like a failure, but I like the PEAR institute exactly for that reason. It was expensive but not useless, because it did debunk these so-called paranormal phenomena. That's an accomplishment, and one that only happened because some fraction of the government managed to restrain their prejudices long enough to look at the data.

The other points you made were valid, and I don't know enough about the area to refute them, but on that last one you are dead wrong. There's a statistically significant difference in behavior of two populations, and that's inherently interesting. If this project doesn't get it's funding renewed, I hope it's for a better reason than someone got politically correct.
posted by d. z. wang at 6:05 PM on August 10, 2010 [9 favorites]


It was a question, not a comment, just FYI.
posted by saturnine at 6:09 PM on August 10, 2010


Clearly Metafilter needs more black people. Pledge drive anyone?
posted by nomadicink at 6:10 PM on August 10, 2010


So I decided to follow a random black person on Twitter...oh, wait, that really happened.
posted by fixedgear at 6:13 PM on August 10, 2010


When I said "comment" I was referring to your entire post, not just the three quoted sentences. If you're looking to nitpick, try the phrase "PEAR institution at Princeton," which is both redundant and incorrect.

Or, you know, you could actually respond to my claim about how we ought to decide what's a good topic for research.
posted by d. z. wang at 6:17 PM on August 10, 2010


This thread is nothing until we have a token representative of the Black Community post their thoughts.

Paging owillis... oh, hang on, I don't think he quite fits the stereotype these articles are pushing...
posted by Jimbob at 6:21 PM on August 10, 2010


If this project doesn't get it's funding renewed

Wait, what project? What funding? There is no ongoing project mentioned in this post.

There's a statistically significant difference in behavior of two populations

No, there's an observed difference in behavior which may or may not be statistically significant. That wasn't established in any of the articles I linked. In general, though, I agree with you, I don't think we should avoid looking at topics because the studies may attract jerks. It's up to the researcher to present results in a responsible manner.

and as for why should anyone care what a racial group are doing?

Why do we have black or Asian or Latino studies departments at universities?
posted by desjardins at 6:25 PM on August 10, 2010


desjardins, okay, whatever.

I'll stay out of it and maybe other folks can get something positive out of the discussion.
posted by kalessin at 6:30 PM on August 10, 2010


...the revolution will not be televised, will not be televised, will not be televised...
posted by erniepan at 6:34 PM on August 10, 2010


Why do we have black or Asian or Latino studies departments at universities?

Oh you can't capitalize black, but Asian and Latino get capitals?! WTH?! Didn't get 40 acres or a mule and now no caps?!
posted by nomadicink at 6:42 PM on August 10, 2010 [4 favorites]


This thread is nothing until we have a token representative of the Black Community post their thoughts.

Why is it assumed that hasn't already happened?
posted by Miko at 6:55 PM on August 10, 2010 [14 favorites]


The best thing at ROFLCon this year was the panel "I can haz dream? race and the internet" featuring Baratunde Thurston from Jack & Jill Politics and the Onion and Christian Lander from Stuff White People Like. There's probably a webcast or transcript out there somewhere, but I thought it was an insightful (and quite funny) look into the way different racial communities exist (and sometimes even co-exist) on the Internet. The popularity of Twitter with African Americans was discussed (though I can't recall what the upshot of that part of the conversation was; sorry).
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:59 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


The best thing at ROFLCon...

LOL nice one, that doesn't really exist!

Oh shit, it does.
posted by Jimbob at 7:03 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


I thought one of the great pleasures of on-line communities was the inability to tell what color someone's skin is or what gender they are, unless they tell you otherwise.
posted by maxwelton at 7:05 PM on August 10, 2010


There's a lot of overlap with skin, race and culture, so it's not always invisible online.
posted by nomadicink at 7:14 PM on August 10, 2010


Wait, what project? What funding? There is no ongoing project mentioned in this post. (desjardins)

Brendan Meeder's homepage says he's a third-year grad student on a three-year fellowship, which means he'll probably need to apply for more funding at some point. I was mostly expressing a hope that since he's been working on this Twitter stuff for a while, he'd be able to secure funding to continue it. Sometimes people can't, and then they have to try to find a different project. It happens everywhere, and what I've heard from friends is that Carnegie Mellon's CS department has a bit more grant-chasing than most places.

No, there's an observed difference in behavior which may or may not be statistically significant. That wasn't established in any of the articles I linked. (desjardins)

You're right. I must have unconsciously assumed that it wouldn't have been reported unless it was statistically significant, but now that I look over the links more closely I see that this is never actually said. In fact, while the Slate article quotes Meeder about the black cliques, it's not clear where they're getting the next paragraph, or how Meeder is scoring blackness. He says he "looked them up", which suggests to me he went online and looked at their profile pictures. Thanks for the correction.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:20 PM on August 10, 2010


I should clarify that when I say "clique" I'm using the graph theoretic term, not making some sort of sociological claim.
posted by d. z. wang at 7:23 PM on August 10, 2010


I reserve the right to say it was okay to laugh when I read this tweet from K_Elliott1 , a guy in North Carolina whose tweets I follow for reasons I don't understand (my Twitter account somehow started out following a dozen or so strangers):

Ok resisted Popeyes chicken . damn it's hard out here for a black man 8:34 AM Aug 6th
posted by ecourbanist at 7:37 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


We have Black, Latino, Jewish, Women, Indian Study programs so those majoring in such programs can go on to grad school and get jobs teaching in those programs at other schools. Or, if not, go on to law school.
posted by Postroad at 7:43 PM on August 10, 2010


I live a few blocks from an entirely black neighborhood (Oh, hi segregation). Whenever I search for nearby tweets on twitter, the results that comes back are about 90% black users going by profile pictures. Right now, I did the nearby search and there is a guy who has posted 32 tweets in the last hour (that's where I stopped counting) and all but 2 are @user comments like "that lets you know she ain't got a life" just really generally stuff, like an IM. I've noticed this trend for about a year now but I never really thought anything of it actually. Hmm.
posted by Hop123 at 7:54 PM on August 10, 2010


Oh jesus. Why are all the articles like "Why this thing???" instead of "Yay!!!" ?

I envision an Onion-style news headline: "White Males Puzzled And Obliquely Threatened By Behavior Of Another Demographic"
posted by ErikaB at 7:57 PM on August 10, 2010 [12 favorites]


Why do white journalists write shitty articles about bad people?
Its been a long-standing tradition since 1619.

WHY?
posted by hal_c_on at 8:27 PM on August 10, 2010


black messaging is interesting by contrast. white people don't know how to have fun, so their messages are just angst-ridden boring shit.
posted by kitchenrat at 8:37 PM on August 10, 2010


Much like the debate about myspace, the imteresting thing is not why or how black people use twitter, but the presence of lower class people in the walled gardens (how great is that phrase?). Though I'd much rather read a critical study of the weird sweaty facination (yes me too) that middle class people have when exposed to these culture. It's sad and wrong that class values and judgements are being imported into what's supposed to be the freeing anonymity of the web. It's like watching the first snobby boarding school be built in New England.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:37 PM on August 10, 2010


sigh.
posted by lunachic at 9:39 PM on August 10, 2010


Kill all these white people. Seriously.
posted by cavalier at 7:26 PM on August 10 [5 favorites +] [!]


It says a lot about this site that this comment gets left up and favorited. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, imagine if the same comment were made about blacks.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:59 PM on August 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


All black people are the same.
All women are the same.
All republicans are the same.
I am an average American.
Everything on the internet is a lie.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:06 PM on August 10, 2010


"It says a lot about this site that this comment gets left up and favorited. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, imagine if the same comment were made about blacks."

Lighten up, Francis.

If a black person said "Kill all these black people," we would have been able to grasp the humor, just like we can now. Likewise, the chances that a white person saying that all black people should be killed is serious and/or able to do it is much higher than a black person making the similar statement.
posted by klangklangston at 10:43 PM on August 10, 2010


I am personally not very concerned that cavalier is coming to kill me. I am also fairly confused since the author of the first article is not white, yet he gets a pass.
posted by desjardins at 10:47 PM on August 10, 2010


Wait - this writer, Choire - finds it awesome that Black people engage in eye rolling tweets that begin with "uainthittinitright if?

Because those aren't witty, or insightful examples of what constitutes Black humor, or humor at all. That's just some grade B-, 14 year old sexually frustrated teenage boy silliness right there, of people who think they are funnier and more sexually sophisticated than they really are.

I mean I get it the style - start off with a phrase and put humor behind it, but so many comedians, Black and otherwise, just do it better. Jeff Foxworthy's "I believe" or " You might be a redneck if" routines are an example. "Uainthittinitright if she leaves before the condom is off" isn't funny, or insightful, or even biting. It's just lame, worthy of about one and a half side-eyes with a 'don't quit your day job' finish. It certainly isn't awesome.

This one the other hand - this is awesome Black humor:

Katt Williams explaining why Steve Erwin was Gangster

That "Friendly, but informational" line just kills me every. time.
posted by anitanita at 11:28 PM on August 10, 2010 [3 favorites]


white people don't know how to have fun, so their messages are just angst-ridden boring shit.

And in the bizarro world we live in, a sentence like this is not considered racist.
posted by lifeless at 11:31 PM on August 10, 2010


white people don't know how to have fun, so their messages are just angst-ridden boring shit.

If it helps, lifeless, I do consider a sentence like this highly inaccurate and not the least bit funny. At least not in the world I live in. Oh, for the silver tongue of an early, riffing Robin Williams to give this it the verbal lashing it deserves.
posted by anitanita at 11:40 PM on August 10, 2010


I thought the black cartoon bird illustration on the slate article was cute.
posted by delmoi at 12:01 AM on August 11, 2010




A while back one of the DJs from Flosstradamus tweeted that Myspace was "the Detroit of the internet". I'm not sure if they came up with the phrasing or were just repeating it, but I've heard it a lot since.

I spent a good 6 months urging my Mexican and Puerto Rican friends to jump on the Facebook bandwagon just so I wouldn't have to go to two places to have the same conversation (but I still need to go to there once every other week or so if I want to find out about noise and hardcore shows because Facebook is still not the best at serving band's needs (and of course, because some of these guys only stay on Myspace to be contrarian... and release all their music on cassette for the same reason).

For a while, the racial divide was more noticeable but Myspace is pretty much dead in Chicago, except for people who want to sell me things, and it feels more like a ghetto than ever. The formatting is as ugly as ever, but people's blogs are never updated and all their information is stuck at whatever random point in their lives they decided to abandon ship.

Friendster is just as much a ghost town but it looks a lot less cluttered.

Also, I just hopped on myspace to check out the profile of the pilot I read about who quit his job spectacularly and, just like it always seems to, Myspace froze my computer and forced me to reboot

Also also, the only people who use 4square more than bartenders are bloggers, regardless of race. This seems as good a place as any to bring that up.
posted by elr at 1:18 AM on August 11, 2010


Ahem. WE DO NOT HAVE EVIDENCE THAT TWITTER IS DISPROPORTIONATELY BLACK. Thank you.

Uh, we do have evidence that twitter is disproportionally black, it's just that we can't give an exact estimate with a lot of precision. According to the blogger, twitter is between 14% to 34% African American (at least in terms of U.S. users). The most likely percentage is 24%. The person you linked too is confusing confidence intervals with a flat distribution between two points. In reality, the distribution could be anywhere, but the more samples you have the 'sharper' the probability density function is. In this case the edge is 'dull', but it still would have a peak in the center.

There is a huge difference between 'no evidence' and 'good, but not conclusive' evidence.
posted by delmoi at 1:45 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Potomac Avenue: Maybe I'm reading you wrong, but you appear to be equating "black people" with "lower class people". You must live a sheltered life if you have failed to encounter the white people that are truly "lower class". How fortunate for you. Not many of them seem to be on the internet, lucky us. Those that do show up tend to wander into traffic on the Information Superhighway, and get run over. It's not pretty.
posted by Goofyy at 1:50 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Honestly now, this does seem like they are over thinking a plate of beans hard. The eclectic group of people that I follow on twitter (nationalities: Dutch, Swedish, Danish, English, Israeli, Indian, American, Canadian, French, Brazilian, Japanese and so on... Political views: anarchists, "swedish liberals", commies, Mefi-enlighteneds, Pirate Party people, conservatives, democrats etc - Religion: Atheists, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu - Professional: journalists, advertising people, visual artists, musicians, PR people, editorial, illustrators, directors, designers, typographers, authors, coders, students, teachers) are pretty much the same type of eclectic group I am used to hanging around in - since I am a product of international schools and lots of moving around.

It's not so strange then, that a person in their teens or early twenties follows and is followed by the group they hang around with, which is likely to be a less eclectic group. Old classmates, colleg-mates, cousins, friends from the neighborhood, that sort of thing. If the person has grown up in a predominantly black area and school, is it so strange that their twitter is clustered in this way?

They should have checked how follow/followings change depending on the age of the twitterer, and then the twitterers nationality. The Multi-Level-marketing people will follow anyone in the world, but they don't really count as proper twitter users, do they?

That said, the type of people who holler out "Dabitch" randomly on twitter all seem to belong to a group that won't respond when I cheekily @-them a "you rang?"
posted by dabitch at 4:08 AM on August 11, 2010


I thought the black cartoon bird illustration on the slate article was cute.

I can very much picture an ilustrator being asked, "Please draw one of those twitter birds, only make it clear that it's African-American." And then the illustrator just takes a reaaalll long look at his drawing desk, and gives one hell of an exhale, and then spends the next two hours frustratedly trying to draw adorable little birds that do not smack of racism.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:35 AM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


ou must live a sheltered life if you have failed to encounter the white people that are truly "lower class". How fortunate for you. Not many of them seem to be on the internet, lucky us.

I think they're all on 4chan.
posted by delmoi at 4:55 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Does anyone else remember when MySpace was declared a "digital ghetto" because all the white people left? I can't blame kalessin for not wanting to comment extensively on this. This discussion about non-white people in social media, especially African Americans, is absolutely batshit insane and very rarely actually talks to the people involved.

I'm not sure I'd use ghetto, because it is such a racially charged word that also implies the use of some kind of force in keeping people there.

But it IS something LIKE that. Nobody is forcing people there, but it is certainly a place where certain demographic groups freely congregate, no doubt because it is where their friends hang out. It looks that way for the same reason you only see certain people in certain stores in the mall. There's no need for any racist or classist force to segregate people; we are pretty good at Balkanizing ourselves.

(One could also probably make a case that this is one of the last vestiges of the effects of the saturation of computers and accessible internet access in the population. Once the domain of students, because their college had computers, and various hobbyists who had the cash to spend on a $2500 IBM AT, or $1500 to spend on a Packard Bell, and the relatively exorbitant online access fees, the fledgling internet saw waves of "immigrants" who joined in with the things and sites that the existing users were already using and probably starting to get sick of. Some users may have hated the filthy immigrants messing up their neighborhood, but the majority were just simply 'done' with whatever it was. Any social passtime has a limited lifetime, and the people who were there first are often the first to wash out.

So, when myspace began, fewer people had computers. Those people (specifically, their gullible parents) tended to be more wealthy and value certain things, like having computers in the home. As they wash out, and computers got more ubiquitous, you got a greater proportion of users who are a bit less "classy". There's no power play there, it's just coincidence of various demographic and economic forces.)
posted by gjc at 4:58 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure I'd use ghetto, because it is such a racially charged word that also implies the use of some kind of force in keeping people there.

Maybe at one time it implied that but I find that now, particularly among people younger than a certain age, it seems to imply "populated primarily by non-Whites". How poor or wealthy the population is seems to be not a part of the concept.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:12 AM on August 11, 2010


I'm not trying to conflate race with social class, but think about some of the industry sectors where "typical" networking behaviour and professional social media use is de rigeur. Are they (other than entertainment) areas with significant black representation? Not really. Then, why are we so sure that this phenomenon simply isn't about people for whom Twitter as a professional identity-building tool isn't relevant?
posted by thisjax at 8:28 AM on August 11, 2010


You know who uses Twitter as a professional identity-building tool? Wankers.

The site lets you post short messages online. It has plenty of uses.
posted by chunking express at 9:02 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what else black people use? Cell phones! And email! And they only talk to people they know, many or most of whom are also black!!!

This whole thing is making me queasy.

Especially when you could have put a good/non-creepy spin on it, such that, hey, seems it's easier to find the tweets/opinions of black people on Twitter than it is to find blogs by black people, (which has been my experience) so now I, a white person, actually get to hear what more black people say about things. And that's kind of cool.

There might be an interesting article in there about Twittering making cross-racial communications easier. This is not it.
posted by emjaybee at 9:24 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's weird to me that so many articles are being written about Dumb Shit Teenagers Are Saying on the Internet, period, but the focus on the black community is extra double weird. Why are the hashtags of young black folks any more noteworthy (let alone newsworthy) than teenaged white girls' inexplicable fascination with Justin Bieber?

I mean, are they just surprised that the black community has figured out how to use the internet? Because if so...

....yeah, I don't really want to think too much about that, actually.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:53 AM on August 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


#browntwitterbird is trending. Lol.
posted by seanyboy at 1:27 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can very much picture an ilustrator being asked, "Please draw one of those twitter birds, only make it clear that it's African-American." And then the illustrator just takes a reaaalll long look at his drawing desk, and gives one hell of an exhale, and then spends the next two hours frustratedly trying to draw adorable little birds that do not smack of racism.

Actually, the illustrator was really conscious of this, and posted on his blog asking if his illustration was racist or not.
posted by NoEatingdogs at 1:29 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I confess... I'm neither a dog nor white *dramatic back of hand on forehead* but I am using the almighty internet (and tweet regularly)


o woe is me


/carry on ...
posted by infini at 1:49 PM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, hey! Thanks for the heads-up on that!
posted by Greg Nog at 1:49 PM on August 11, 2010



#browntwitterbird is trending. Lol.

There are some really hilarious tweets under that hashtag.
posted by Maude_the_destroyer at 2:10 PM on August 11, 2010


Is this some kind of high tech "there goes the neighborhood" thng?

yes
posted by mrgrimm at 9:34 AM on August 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Angry Black Bitch says the most reasoned, measured thing on the topic. (And yes, when Angry Black Bitch is the calm voice of reason, that tells you how stupid shit has gotten...)
posted by yeloson at 10:51 AM on August 13, 2010 [1 favorite]




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