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Twitter on your TV: Has the social media site gone too far?

May 28, 2009


Headlines recently broke the story of a new television show concept: Twitter might soon be taking over your TV. Twitter, a social media website in which users can post everything from pictures to vital information such as what they had for lunch, was founded in 2007 and grew to 7 million users in just one year. The popularity of the website is not only evident by numbers but also recognition.

I should mention before I further discuss the possible production of the television program that I typically shun social media. Facebook and Myspace are foreign words to me. Before I enrolled in J412 I had only heard the word Twitter but never knew anyone who used it or what it was all about. That changed drastically after I became a member in order to feel in the loop with my classmates and my professor. Suddenly my previous reservations changed to excitement and curiosity. What is this “follow” option I wondered? Oh, I see, I can keep track of a person or organization and the things they write will be posted to my home screen. It took me about ten minutes of searching through followers of followers to discover what I had been missing. I felt connected to a secret society where people shared interesting articles, funny video clips, and most importantly unknown happy hours at up and coming bars. If this is social media sign me up. It took a few conversations with a roommate and fellow tweeter for my previous reservations to resurface. She “Follows” only celebrities and loves that she can “keep track” of what they are doing. The phrase she used was slightly disturbing. Twitter began to scare me again.

Enough of my personal qualms, the issues of access into the lives of others are starting to get wide-spread recognition. These issues were brought to the forefront in the media with the announcement that Twitter a television program that uses Twitter is in the works. Will it show people doing activities and then writing an update on themselves on their personal Twitter page? That would certainly make for dull programming so luckily this was not the idea. Unfortunately, however, the way the social media site is being transformed onto the small screen is arguably distressing.

The model for the show would be Twitter fanatics using the site to track their favorite celebrities in a competitive manner. Long Pause. Twitter gurus Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher have expressed their distain for the show. Ashton, who has over 2 million followers which is an embarrassingly higher number than President Obama, tweeted: “Wow I hope this isn’t true I really don’t like being sold out. May have to take a twitter hiatus.” Some may say if you don’t want people to be following you than you shouldn’t have personal information up anyways. Demi responded by saying, “The difference is I am sharing of myself vs someone else exploiting me. That is the incredible gift that Twitter has created.”

While some reports are stating that Twitter is in fact teaming up with Reveille productions and Brillstein Entertainment Partners to create the unscripted series the social media site rejects this notion. Twitter has issued a very definitive answer to the rumors around the show. Biz Stone, a co-founder of the site, said “Just to be clear, Twitter is not making a television show.” He went on to say, “Some Hollywood folks are developing something that leverages Twitter and they are extremely enthusiastic as evidenced by all the media hubbub yesterday and today. We have little to do with their efforts but we wish them success.”

Part of the fun of this site is found through the usage of celebrities. The popularity has stemmed from its strong celebrity support and it will be interesting to see the potential fall-out if they begin to feel exploited. Will more stars decide to forgo their beloved tweeting, or will the television program never come to be? We will just have to wait and see how this unfolds, as for me I think I might have to tweet about it until then.

Kelsey Parsons

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