There’s a fascinating post on the Twitter Blog that underlines the evolution of Twitter from its conception as a tool for sharing a quick status update into a communications hub. The Tweets Must Flow is a fascinating insight into the world of Twitter, and reflects how important social media is for activism.
While the article does not specifically mention either Egypt or Wikileaks, the tone and content of the article clearly refer to both events, and there are a number of key points that bear consideration:
The open exchange of information can have a positive global impact. This is both a practical and ethical belief … freedom of expression is a human right.
Our position on freedom of expression carries with it a mandate to protect our users’ right to speak freely and preserve their ability to contest having their private information revealed.
For sure Twitter still have to comply with government regulations – they were recently forced to pass on user data about some of the key players in the WikiLeaks organisation, but even then, the ethical stance about informing people about the data that is being requested about them is laudable – especially when you compare it with the actions of Yahoo in China, where they secretly passed private data to the Chinese Government, leading to a dissident journalist being jailed for 10 years.
The openness of the Twitter ecosystem has allowed developers to build upon the infrastructure to allow different tiers of communication beyond simple text, and it is this transformation into a bona fide communication platform that has made the system into such an important tool for activists wanting to organise.
Freedom of expression is a basic human right, and should be protected at all costs. In a global community, access to the Internet has become essential in finding information and sharing news outside the limitations that certain regimes impose on their people.
From a position of cosy safety, it is easy to wax ecstatic about the importance of Twitter as a tool for change, but a tool is nothing without the bravery and dedication of those who use it.