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Users are divided on Black Twitter’s chances of surviving under Elon Musk


Black Twitter is mourning the possible end of the influential community they found on Twitter over a decade ago, but users are torn between finding a new app or staying put.

“I’m not ready to go there because I feel like a lot of things are. Black people bring culture and community and love and so much energy and spirit and soul to every place we live and then someone else comes in and totally disrupts the energy and we leave , and they benefit from what we’ve built,” Eunique Jones Gibson, an avid Twitter user and CEO of marketing firm Culture Brands, told CNN.

Gibson, like many other black users, bonded with strangers and elevated movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “Bring Back Our Girls” while using Black Twitter – the platform’s subset of social media where black people have conversations about everything from culture to race to identity. Since Elon Musk took over Twitter in October, the future of Black Twitter has sparked debate among scholars and its users.

“We all see ourselves in this predicament where we are now, like, ‘Dang, we built this and now it belongs to someone who doesn’t share our same values,'” Gibson said.

Andre Brock, a black digital studies professor at Georgia Tech who has studied black Twitter, said black users might not leave the platform, at least for a while.

“We’re going to live wherever we are, even if the circumstances aren’t perfect for us, but when have they ever (been)?” Brock told CNN, adding that the social media platform has been the go-to for black users for more than a decade.

But Brock said the collective voice that represents Black Twitter will continue to be “Black as loud and exuberant as possible” no matter where he lives.

Charlton Mcllwain, a professor at New York University and author of “Black Software: The Internet & Racial Justice, from the AfroNet to Black Lives Matter,” said Black Twitter does its own thinking and Musk won’t change it. However, McIlwain says Musk could modify the platform to make it difficult to track down or amplify other users’ tweets, or create a hostile environment.

“Amplifying the voices of white supremacist users and turning the platform into a haven for anti-Black racism or racism targeting other identities could also negatively impact Black Twitter by creating an environment that users simply deem too hostile to be worth it,” McIllwain said.

As users are still deciding what to do after recent changes to Twitter — like restoring previously banned accounts and the upcoming rollout of a new verification system — civil rights organizations like the NAACP have called on companies to suspend any advertising on social media. Platform.

“Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, racial slurs have increased and conspiracy theories have spread,” the NAACP said in a statement.

In the first 24 hours of Musk’s ownership, multiple reports noted that racist comments, hate speech and other objectionable content increased dramatically on Twitter as users tested Musk’s promise that he would allow the “freedom of expression” on the platform.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson and leaders of a coalition of groups aiming to end hate met with Musk to voice their concerns and began calling on advertisers to boycott Twitter after Musk said the account former President Donald Trump would be reinstated.

Changes Musk has requested or made in recent weeks have led black users to seek out other platforms, including some black-owned ones, or even create new ones.

Social media app Mastodon has gained at least 230,000 users since Musk took over Twitter, its creator Eugen Rochko told CNN Business earlier this month.

Isaac Hayes III has invited the black Twitter community to join his Fanbase social platform, which he created to help black users monetize their content and grow. He has tweeted that black users shouldn’t feel like they have no place to go if they want to.

For Yonathan Gebreyes, a black tech entrepreneur and developer, the controversy and changes on Twitter are creating opportunities for small apps.

Earlier this year, Gebreyes launched a microblogging app called Paper Africa because he believes local and Western media are not covering Africa in a timely manner.

“Users are now open to options. The growth and adoption we are seeing with Paper Africa is an indication of people’s increased appetite,” Grebeyes told CNN.

Jordana Wright founded a social media platform called The Black Twitter App in April and has seen an increase in downloads since Musk took over Twitter. Wright says his app currently has 15,000 registered users.

“We don’t have a budget the size of Twitter. We don’t have a team the size of Twitter. Twitter has about 20 years on us, but our first day is looking pretty good,” Wright told CNN.

Wright’s love for the Black Twitter community inspired her to develop her app, even though she knows no one can recreate it. It was a risk, she told CNN, but she wanted to create something meaningful for her community.

“I’m someone who met my best friends through Black Twitter, got some of the greatest professional opportunities through Black Twitter. I celebrated and wept with Black Twitter. It’s my community,” Wright said.

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