I live in Japan, but I suppose Twitter is the most popular social media platform in Japan. Maybe, the characteristics of Twitter, such as anonymousness and easiness, fit into the Japanese people. According to public information, Twitter in Japan has about 45 million users (MAU), which is more than Instagram (33 million) and even Facebook (26 million) in the Japanese market. Many Japanese enjoy Twitter very uniquely. As soon as someone posts a specific hashtag (theme) on Twitter, for example, many people there would jump on it with joking, sarcasm, criticism, and so on. This style is called Twitter Ogiri (大喜利) in Japan. Plus, many brands have taken advantage of Twitter Ads in their marketing activities. As a result, the sales profit of Twitter Japan accounts for about 16 percent of the global amount as of November 2019.
First, I like Twitter. It is said that someone prefers flying cars to Twitter, but I prefer Twitter to flying cars. When Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO of Twitter, visited Japan in November 2017, he was interviewed for NHK (Nippon Hōsō Kyōkai), which stands for Japan Broadcasting Corporation. He answered the question in this way, “…the reason why people post tweets is that they are interested in something… this is not related to the people you already know… the most crucial thing is what you are interested in…” I sincerely agree with his idea.
I often have a conversation with people outside of Japan. My impression is that few people adore Twitter. They usually have an account on Twitter, but hardly use it. Some people don’t have an account, though they have an account on Instagram. I have asked them why they don’t positively use Twitter. They answered my question in this way, “I don’t want to see fake news and trolls on there.”
As you know, we can deliver the message to the world on Twitter without being distracted by anyone. I believe this is the most significant advantage of Twitter. But negative information is no exception. Unfortunately, I couldn’t deny the reason why they hate Twitter.
Twitter pushed a reality TV star into tragic suicide
Hana Kimura, a famous pro wrestler, killed herself recently. She played an active role in not only the ring but also on a popular reality TV show “Terrace House.” She was one of the characters on the show. She recieved massive backlash on social media by the trigger of her words and actions on the show. Notably, many anonymous users harassed her on Twitter more than other social media platform. Facebook adopts a real name. Instagram focuses on photos and videos, and aesthetics are given weight there. But many people tend to attack others straightly and quickly on Twitter. After we’ve gone through this severe incident, some Japanese politicians are about to change the law to let victims accuse suspects more easily. In fact, the Ministry of Justice decided to build a new project team to consider how to protect mental abuse on social media as of June 2020. It seems that even the politicians and bureaucrats who are usually reluctant to move couldn’t ignore this tragedy.
As many experts point out, this problem is complicated. I agree that victims can accuse suspects more easily. But I’m concerned that authority like a politician might take advantage of this system to let forces of opposition be quiet. If Twitter adopts a real-name system like Facebook or identification certificate like a passport, it would no longer be Twitter. That being said, some people decide to kill themselves due to harassment on Twitter, and Jack Dorsey should take it seriously. Even if it takes cost considerably, the platformer itself should prepare for new functions or systems to prevent users from having any mental abuse. Twitter must do that because it has gotten a profit through adverts.
The idea from Mark Zuckerberg
While thinking something above, I got the news that Twitter alerted and labeled President Trump’s tweets because Twitter saw these tweets lacking of facts and fueling violence. On the other hand, I thought Mark Zuckerberg’s comment against Twitter’s action was interesting. According to several media, Mark said, “…social media companies shouldn’t be an arbitrator of the truth…” As a result of that, many employees at Facebook are upset and against this kind of stance. According to the latest news, Mark rethought his comment and is about to change Facebook’s policy. In my opinion, I want to endorse his previous comment. As Mark said previously, the social media platform shouldn’t be the arbitrator of the truth, and they can’t be so. The biggest advantage of social media is that everyone can post messages freely, and everyone can receive them. It is practically impossible for a social media platform to judge each post brought by each user. All they can do is to decide to suspend or delete the account itself because of breaching their policy.
How should Twitter deal with @realDonaldTrump account?
As I mentioned above, I think Mark’s comment gets straight to the point. But of course, I know this is not easy. Undoubtedly, Twitter shouldn’t deal with inappropriate content like white supremacy, Nazi sympathizers, racial discrimination, and so on. There is no doubt above, but everything is not necessarily clear. The typical case is @realDonaldTrump, President Trump’s private account on Twitter.
If you are an anti-Trump supporter, you would not understand why his account isn’t suspended yet. To the contrary, Twitter is the best media to deliver his message without being distracted by any “Fake” media for Trump supporters. I have had a favorable opinion that he has taken advantage of Twitter since long ago, and my opinion hasn’t yet changed. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t mean that I endorse President Trump and his policies, I mean that I agree that he utilizes Twitter to the fullest extent.
The legacy media like TV and newspaper had dominated public opinion around the world in the past. In other words, they could decide whether they would treat the President’s statement as positive or negative. Japan had the same situation. Some executives at authoritative newspapers said, “We can choose next prime minister.” This kind of arrogant words and action pushed many people’s hearts away. Now many people hate such legacy media. Therefore, Many Japanese politicians have taken advantage of social media nowadays, but no politician gets involved with social media than President Trump.
The future of Twitter
When we try to consider that Twitter is the symbol of transparency or spreader of hatred, there is something we must not forget. Every social media outlet lies to keep people happy.
As you know, the so-called automobile has brought massive benefits to our society. Nobody can’t deny that. At the same time, we have to recognize that many people have been killed by car accidents so far. Even if people suffer damage in the car society, we have no choice but to continue to use cars because we can no longer go back to a world without cars. Such vehicles and social media platforms are different. I would say nobody shouldn’t be pushed into death even if social media can bring enormous benefits to us.
As a matter of course, not politicians but only platforms themselves can improve themselves. Even if it takes considerable money to add new functions or systems against cyberbullying, they shouldn’t forget they have a responsibility to protect their users in one way or another. Twitter is an experienced company compared to newcomers like TikTok, but I think they still have more potential. If Twitter succeeds in removing fake, troll, hatred, and so on without becoming an arbitrator of the truth, I believe its value will be reviewed and continue to grow.