Controlling Your Opinion in 140 Characters or Less

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The media has acted as a gatekeeper ever ince the start of yellow journalism during the Progressive Era. Nowadays, instead of receiving the latest news from a hot printing press, people relay on online media websites to keep them updated on the buzz around the world. Throughout the week I followed the popular hashtag trends on Twitter. The most popular trends
were those about the upcoming presidential election and any celebrity news, particularly the dropping of Drake’s and Future’s mixtape. I determined the most popular trends were those with the most people hash-tagging about the topic. One night the most popular hashtag was #AlDubEBforLove which was a Filipino reality show, while the least popular hashtag was #Jeremih, which was tweets about the new song “Fix You” by Nelly featuring Jeremih. By monitoring the amount of hashtags used for one topic, Twitter can keep track of the most popular trends. Twitter advertising the most popular trends on a sidebar on the left side of the page. This type of advertisement enables Twitter to encourage its followers to tweet and learn about certain topics around the world. This tactic also narrows the tweeter’s view by only highlighting the most popular tags instead of the most controversial tags. These twitter trend links encouraged me to learn more on topics related to celebrities and politics but it also discourages the public from learning about more controversial and worldly topics.

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By Twitter providing such a narrow section of “popular trends” it discourages the people on the site from widening their views on other news around the world. This narrow-minded view from twitter feeds falls into the category of media-controlled outlooks. Twitter is unique compared to other medias because its audience is typically teenagers and young adults. Twitter has the potential to shape its viewers’ young minds into politically and socially educated individuals but instead of providing the viewer with crucial news information Twitter focuses on news stories on celebrity and political scandals. Although Twitter does not advertise controversial issues, conversations amongst twitter users is spurred from the trending hashtags. When clicking on a popular hashtag the viewer is sent to a page where all of the tweets using this hashtag are displayed. Frequently people use the hashtag to their advantage by voicing their opinion in a tweet with the popular hashtag. This gets their opinion out there to the public and it spurs political and social communication amongst the twitter-sphere. During my days of following the trending hashtags I gained knowledge in not only the new Drake and Future mixtape but also about Vice President Boehner’s resignation. The popular trends hashtags led me to tweets about the topics which then led me to other credible news sites like Huffington Post, CNN, and Fox News. Although Twitter does narrow the political and social views of its users, it does provide an opportunity to gain further knowledge in more controversial, worldly topics if the user puts effort into finding more information on the topic.

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