They’re growing in number: Ed Sheeran, Lindsay Lohan, Emma Stone, Louis CK, Zayn Malik, Adele and Italy’s own Alessandro Gassman. And that’s not counting the people who come and go. But why are so many celebrities deleting their twitter accounts and going to other social networks? Twitter’s changing, and it’s being used very differently now from how it was conceived and used in previous years. Insults and threats are flying around, and lots of VIPs don’t like it. Could this be the end of the 140-character era?
Ed Sheeran’s had enough: too many negative comments
Twitter is still pretty powerful, putting you in contact with influencers and letting you share information and feelings. But it’s not completely convincing. That’s why
People took to Twitter to accuse the English singer-songwriter of using a pre-recorded backing track during his live set at Glastonbury, though he maintained that it was a loop station. However, the tone of the comments and the threats people were slinging were enough to force the singer to a drastic decision – leaving it all. In an interview with the Sun, he claimed “I’ve come off Twitter completely. I can’t read it. I go on it and there’s nothing but people saying mean things. Twitter’s a platform for that. One comment ruins your day.
Twitter’s trouble? You can’t block all the trolls
The real problem is bigger than just a few stars deleting their accounts because of some negative comments. It’s about how safe any user feels when faced with a troll. Twitter is working hard to improve its user experience: you can change whole lines in a feed, and block notifications from any account that doesn’t have a profile image or that doesn’t privately link to a verified phone number or email address. These are useful features, but the truth that worries celebrities – among others – is that you can’t block all the trolls. Other social networks are more advanced in that regard. Instagram, for example, is trying to implement this exact policy, allowing users to block offensive comments and spam through artificial intelligence systems and machine learning.
And this is why so many stars love Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. On Facebook, verified accounts can use the Facebook Mentions app to see messages from accounts they’re following, but without falling victim to the comments. Plus, Twitter seems to be working against itself, by doing things like leaving President Trump’s profile active even after many people have called for its deletion following particularly contentious tweets.
If digital lets you down, there’s always human contact
Stars will always have a way of making their voice heard. Ed Sheeran, for example, will only communicate through Instagramnow. After this incident, the artist is even more convinced, saying that “in the long run, I prefer human contact to digital contact.” Maybe it’s time for a trend reversal? In any case, he wasn’t the first to point this out. Alicia Keys launched Digital Life Sacrifice a few years ago, aiming to prevent as many stars as possible from joining Twitter. The real goal was much more noble – it was a charity for the organization Keep a Child Alive, which was trying to raise a million dollars. So until the sum was raised, big stars like Lady Gaga, Usher, Justin Timberlake, Elijah Wood, Serena Williams, and many others temporarily shut down their accounts.
“It’s so important to shock you to the point of waking up,” Keys said. And that’s the real role that Twitter is playing right now. It’s no longer about information, it’s a way of making your voice heard in 140 characters or less – whether that’s for negativity, insults and threats, or positive reasons like charity or just reminding people that real life exists outside of social networks.