The new year brought new dimensions to the ongoing conversation on the power platforms have in hosting and shaping public discourse. When some people blamed social media companies for the disease of misinformation that spread more quickly even than Covid-19, others pointed to politicians as the source of the lies. But when Twitter and Facebook both took (belated but welcome) action to squelch those lies, even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey questioned whether platforms have too much power. These platforms’ leaders are appearing before Congress today, in part to address that very question.
Twitter has become especially central for news. There’s a lot that has been said about platformization, weakened media organizations, and a lack of regulation, and all of those factors play a role in Twitter’s prominence in the news ecosystem. But our latest study finds that journalists themselves have transferred some of their own power over the presentation of current events to Twitter by normalizing the ways tweets are presented in news stories.