In today’s edition of you can’t be serious news, it’s been announced that the Data Science at the Annenberg Innovation Labs at the USC will conduct a study on Black Twitter. The purpose of the study is below. In pursuit of a generalizable set of best practices for audience research on social media, DSAIL is working toward an understanding of highly active sub-community of Twitter users often self-identified as “Black Twitter.” This case study turns on a tricky classification problem: not everyone who identifies as black is a part of Black Twitter, nor does everyone participating in Black Twitter identify as black. In spite of this ambiguity, coverage of Black Twitter in the popular and trade press has exploded during the last year. The community is credited with mobilizing attention around a variety of news and entertainment events, including attracting millions of new viewers to the network drama Scandal and drawing national news coverage to the killing of Trayvon Martin. The data we are collecting will allow us to map specific user connections, explore how information is spread and by whom, and identify the types of communication practices that are unique to Black Twitter. As part of this research, we are engaged in highlighting and evaluating both the immediate and long-term social implications of these online interactions. **Raises eyebrows. Rolls eyes and Side eyes** This new study–which sounds like a backhanded compliment– is reportedly to be conducted by three white guys. (Nice!) On the one hand, Black Twitter is responsible for raising awareness to social issues that would none the less go under the radar of mainstream media. When The New York Times referred to Mike Brown as “no angel” it was Black Twitter who defended the slain teen and tore the writer a new one in a 140 characters or less. And yes, Thursday nights, Black Twitter shows off all its splendor, creativity and humor while live tweeting during Scandal. However, to deem members of Black Twitter a “sub-community” and to study the culture like members of it are lab rats, isn’t a good feeling. When Black Twitter got word of the study? We took to our Smartphones and let folks know this “study” wasn’t a good look.
Wait. Three white guys are trying to study #BlackTwitter? #nope
— Christina Coleman (@ChrissyCole) September 3, 2014
This #BlackTwitter study is rooted in the same energy as slave masters forbidding slaves from becoming literate.
— Jennifer. (@JennyWHOA) September 3, 2014
#BlackTwitter is impt, but it’s not your anthropological study; stop putting black folks under a microscope & saying “golly! look at em go!”
— Hannah G. (@ethiopiennesays) March 10, 2014
we’ve been producing free content on Twitter for years. This #blacktwitter study should not surprise you.
— Jerry L Barrow (@JLBarrow) September 3, 2014