The Eye of Twitter | A5

Twitter in this day and age has become a very powerful social network in how it has hosted many social awareness movements and has put a bigger accountability to people of influence. As emphasized by Murthy “Twitter has simple yet powerful methods of connecting tweets to larger themes, specific people, and groups. This is a unique aspect of the medium.” (Murthy, 3).

Twitter’s tools such as the hashtag and the verified symbol are an important part of making this mass connection possible. The hashtag tool allows any person with or without an account to view and comment on tweets relating to it and it allows people to browse through each of them like tv channels and “If the channel piques your attention, you can stay tuned in.” (Murthy, 6). With that concept in mind Twitter accounts themselves can act as a TV channel that can be represented by a celebrity, official news channel account, organizations, and etc. What enforces this idea is the “verified” symbol that’s unique to Twitter which lets a person know the person/organization/etc is in fact who they say they are. Because of how public and accountable it is Twitter can serve as an example of surveillance.

Twitter’s ability to let us publicize our thoughts and to view other’s thoughts goes along with Lyon’s hypothesis that “….all sorts of watching have become commonplace within a ‘viewer society’…” and that “….things once ‘private’ have become open to the ‘public gaze’ of many”. (Lyon 36). And when it comes to the surveillance concepts of panopticon and synopticon Twitter serves as both. Take the Ferguson riots. Twitter becomes the few watching the many whenever it was being used by many journalists that live-tweeted their undercover coverage of the police brutality against rioting citizens. Panopticon is the reverse of this in how it spread rapidly across Twitter. Twitter became an essential part of exposing the Ferguson riots since it gave the public the opportunity to not only record but also view the first-person accounts of Ferguson that major TV news broadcasts couldn’t provide.

In our remix video will be emphasizing our argument of Twitter as a type of surveillance using the Eye of Sauron from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We’ll be taking the Eye of Sauron footage from Lord of the Rings and cutting in news videos of major Twitter scandals and movements. Our Eye of Sauron will become our symbol of surveillance and accountability because like how the Eye of Sauron keeps a constant eye of Mordor Twitter serves as the constant eye of injustice. Our Eye of Twitter video will be giving light to many events and scandals just like the Eye of Sauron lights Mordor’s intruders. The scandals and injustices we’ll show will include the police brutality at Ferguson, Glenn Beck favoriting a white supremacist tweet, the spread of the OU scandal and more. Below is a video that emphasizes the Eye of Sauron surveillance symbol by featuring a Leona Lewis song called “I See You”.


One comment on “The Eye of Twitter | A5

  1. You start out well with your use of Murthy here, but this gets a little muddled in its message. You appear to be suggesting that Twitter, if it does embody the notion of synoptic surveillance within digital culture, perhaps does so for good (you use words like “accountability,” reference social justice movements and protests that perhaps weren’t getting sufficiently covered by mainstream news media, etc.). So, you have an argument here that Twitter functions as both panopticon and synopticon, which is a good starting point. Where this becomes potentially problematic is in the visual usage of Sauron, which is a (literal) evil eye. I get what you’re going for visually with the reference (it’s ever-watching), but when coupled with the surveillance theme, which automatically lends itself to “surveillance=bad” arguments, you need to be a little careful of what this visual through line will connote. I’d like to get a slightly better sense of your argument- yes, Twitter functions as a good example of the viewer society, but what are you saying about the increased visibility of these scandals and social justice movements, and how twitter organizes that visibility (via #, for example)? This is a good foundation, you just need to push it a bit further and be attentive to the fact that using Sauron’s eye will inevitably code this as a critique.


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