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BBC Radio 4: The Power of Twitter

Journalism and Digital Media 20 December 2018

Professor Christian Fuchs, Director of the Communication and Media Research Institute at the University of Westminster, was interviewed by BBC Radio 4 on the effects of Twitter on politics and which consequences this may engender.

In his interview, Professor Fuchs explained how commercial social media platforms such as Twitter, playing a huge role in our politics, could be a danger to democracy: “Twitter is not a communication company but an advertising company. It is all about selling targeted advertising, the accumulation of economic capital, visibility, followers in the very structure of Twitter itself.

“It is somehow a quite individualistic rather than a social media platform. It creates a huge asymmetry of communication power which does not allow us to speak of a public sphere.”

Speaking about the effect of Twitter bots, he also said: “It undermines political communication in the public sphere because it becomes difficult to discern what is communicated by a human being and what is being communicated by a machine. If a message has 10,000 retweets, people will really look at it but if 70 per cent of this message was retweeted by bots then it is not really attention or positive agreement given by human beings.”

Listen to the full interview on BBC iPlayer from 07:08.

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