Being a Twitter user since 2008 due to my past job as a web designer/production artist at a notable telecommunications company, Twitter has gone a long way to win the hearts of the public with its simple, user-friendly features from the useful types such as the automatic retweets to the not-so-practical ones such as Trending Topics. Regarding the latter, many of us Twitter enthusiasts more or less check on the Trending Topics to see what the buzz has been about all around the world as well as in a user’s designated country. I use Twitter simply as a means of quick communication and quick blurbs and thorough microblogging to let my followers know what I’ve been up to, what I’ve discovered, and simply just sharing what I love. Trending Topics for me, as well as most of my followers, is something that we look in to as some kind of a prompt for us to tweet about in case we get in to some kind of a writer’s block (or a “Tweetsters” block if you should call it) and we simply don’t know what we would like to tweet for that day or hour.
I did notice something that’s rather peculiar to me. I am a Pinay-American who have been residing in the United States (in particular the San Francisco Bay Area, the capital of today’s techno-trends and the kingdom of social media) for twenty-five years now and ever since the emergence of Twitter starting right here in the good old Bay Area, I have discovered from many co-workers, former colleagues, and even family and friends that they simply look at the trending topics just so they can search and read tweets for news and information, in addition to being tweet prompts so they can have something to tweet about and join in the trending discussion. I’ve always believed that the purpose of social media is to connect with people through shared interests and gaining news and information that may also be of interest. I never saw it as a form of heavy advertisement of an individual’s or a company’s profiles or simply their business for the sole purpose of one thing: popularity.
With the latter mentioned, I’ve been noticing a lot of that among majority of the Filipino “tweetsters”, where I feel that they fail to realize the true purpose of the Trending Topics feature on Twitter in the first place. When I mentioned Filipino twitter users, I meant the ones living in the Philippines. Being more or less up to date with the pop trends in the Philippines (take note – I haven’t been to the Philippines since I was eleven-years-old, but thanks to the power of social media and the internet, at least I’m aware and catching up), there have been a lot of commonalities that I’ve noticed with Filipino (in the Philippines) twitter users in terms of Trending Topics.
- For the sake of popularity and attention by the Twitter World. Users trend something by adding a hashtag keyword and then tweet something that’s even unrelated. What I mean by this doesn’t necessarily becoming popular in a positive way. This method and reasoning is also used to spread hate as well.
- Repeatedly tweeting the same hashtag over and over again to drive traffic to a user’s profile, especially when it’s mixed with some form of advertising.
- Tweeting a hashtag along with some form of link that leads other users to somewhere misleading and unrelated to that hashtag.
- Using trending topic hashtag keywords just for a user to request something irrelevant to another user. For example, a person uses a trending topic hashtag along with a tweet that requests other users to “follow me.”
- If you are familiar with Pinoy Big Brother, as an example, this happens very often with users watching that TV show. In fact, even the staff behind that reality show are also guilty of this. An example would be when a housemate is being nominated and are calling out all fans in Twitter World to trend that supported housemate’s name for the purpose of “saving” that housemate from getting evicted rather than going through the actual procedure of saving that housemate (by texting their votes or voting online). Another example (and a bad one at that) would be that the “secretary” of the official Pinoy Big Brother twitter account would blatantly retweet negative tweets from other users against a select particular housemates and to spread hate against them. Wait, this item relates to the second reason. I may probably do a specific touch base on this one on another future article should I get around to it.
- Tweeting these hashtags for the sole purpose of spamming his/her own timeline and also the timeline of his/her followers. Hm, this is about the same as the first item in this list.
Just as a sidenote, majority of the reasons listed above are actually being filtered and are against Twitter’s Terms of Service, that can lead users who abuse the Trending Topics for irrelevant reasons to account suspension and/or deletion. You may check out Twitter’s FAQ about Trending Topics here for a clear explanation.
Maybe I should have had taken screencaps of examples of these types of tweeters as proof of my observations. In fact, I can’t remember if it was on Twitter or Facebook, but someone from the Philippines commented that they have the right to post/tweet bashing and hating towards individuals or issues being publicly known because they live in a democratic country and have the right to go out and tarnish and hurt others through these nasty words. If Twitter and Facebook were primarily social networking companies built and founded in the Philippines, maybe that person’s opinion would be justified. However, it seems they forget that Twitter and Facebook are American social networking services and that cyberbullying is illegal in the United States, which was why filter and blocking and other security features were added in their services for the purpose of stopping cyberbullying among users.
Forgive me if I’m about to go off-topic at this point. Is it just me or is it a part of the “true Filipino mindset” for them to be noticed and become popular by the masses that if it’s impossible for that to happen in real life, that they would use (and abuse) social media for that purpose. How can that user benefit from gaining attention from the masses? Is that person going to be paid a lump sum or something like that? Or is it that I’m not “Filipino” enough for me to actually understand the need of gaining popularity altogether?
And finally, why should certain topics have to land in the Trending Topics just for shallow reasons other than to provide popular discussions and provide tweeting prompts for users to tweet something to the vast Twitter community? Once these hashtags do land in the Trending Topics, Philippines-specific or worldwide, then what?
This is merely an opinion of mine in addition to also reflecting on what the true purpose of social networking is supposed to be. Twitter is one of the coolest inventions ever made by man, I agree. I just wish that people would know how to use them the correct way of using them. Then again, this is reality, and majority of the world’s population up to now lack obvious common sense with everyday life. Social networking is one of them.