No Gatekeepers, No Worries

2013. How do you sum up the year that was? By looking at Twitter’s top trending topics of course.


As mentioned last week, media users today play a significant role in building on, debating and critiquing the published reports of mainstream journalism (Bruns, 2007). Conversations are becoming more open and multi-linear due to emerging technologies, and the hashtag has become a powerful tool in navigating the social media landscape.

We are talking about practices of ‘produsage’, which Bruns (2007) describes as a hybrid of ‘production’ and ‘usage’ emerging as a key challenge to the traditional authorities of knowledge – i.e. the gatekeepers of traditional media. As Bruns (2007) argues, “a shift towards produsage may revive democratic processes by levelling the roles and turning citizens into active producers of democracy once again”.

But let’s look at this at a political level.

In mid-2013, thousands of protests ripped across Turkey in opposition to a proposed urban development of Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park (McCoy, 2014). Social media played a major role in these protests far better than any traditional media could offer. 


‘Turkey’ was the second highest trending topic of 2013 under international news. With #Turkey, the tag promoted related topics to an audience far beyond the follower list of the person who used it. Such frequency of use made it a trending topic, which Twitter defines as, “the hottest emerging topics of discussion”, allowing what happens in the world to simultaneously happen on the social media site.

Take the birth of the new #RoyalBaby for example. The topic sparked a frenzy of excitement that spread rapidly across the world, with more than 25,300 tweets per minute (Wiltshire, 2013).

Whether it be information concerning #PrayForBoston or #Wimbledon, it’s clear the hashtag plays a significant role in the access and distribution of content by a wide community of participants.

Bruns (2007) refers to this as ‘collaborative filtering” where users shift through vast amounts of information online to “discover the most relevant, important, or useful information,” for their needs.

So in a country with an estimated 10 million Twitter users no wonder the government banned the site.



But that didn’t stop them.

Just look at how many other countries have blocked popular social media sites in an attempt to control the production and dissemination of user-generated content.

And then there’s trending topics like this…




Bruns, Axel (2007) ‘Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation’, In
Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6, Washington, DC. (Viewed April 10, 2014)

McCoy, T (2014), ‘Turkey Bans Twitter – and Twitter Explodes’, The Washington Post, [Online] March 21 (Viewed April 12, 2014)

Wiltshire, L (2013), ‘2013: The Year On Twitter’, Twitter UK Blog, December 11, (Viewed April 12, 2014)


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