Twitter: what it has meant for civic discourse and the project of liberal democracy.

By Staff

January 18th, 2023



In a book about social media and the way it has changed how politics is done Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, former US President Donald Trump and the word Truth appear on the cover. That seemed like something worth taking a look at.  A kind of gotta read for the political junkies.

The author, is a senior fellow at Massey College at the University of Toronto, is a former Ottawa and Washington bureau chief of the Toronto Star and served as director of communications for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Christopher Dornan in a review of the book writes: “But the prospect of a world without Twitter had been broached, prompting us to consider anew what the platform has become to us, and what it has meant for civic discourse and the project of liberal democracy.

“Because unlike Instagram or Pinterest or Medium, Twitter has assumed a centrality of place in the political theatre, becoming over the span of a few short years, the main stage on which the cut and thrust of partisan duelling plays out. What Etsy is to people who make jewelry at home, Twitter is to the political flame wars waged between worked-up citizens bunkered in their basements.

“Which begs the question of how Twitter has managed to entwine itself so fixedly in the political nervous system. If a magazine dies, there are other magazines to take its place. If an airline goes bankrupt, people still fly on airplanes. If a telecom company goes out of business, it does not shut down telecommunications. But if Twitter were to disappear, politics as we know it would undergo a seizure. There would be a rupture in the supply chain.

“There is a reason it’s Twitter and not Facebook that is mentioned so prominently right in the title of Trump, Trudeau, Tweets, Truth, despite the fact that Facebook is by far the larger platform. Worldwide, Twitter has 206 million daily users. Facebook has 1.98 billion. Twitter doesn’t even make money. On $5-billion in revenue in 2021, it lost $221-million (albeit an improvement over 2020, when it lost $1.1-billion).”

Interesting read.


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