First recorded use of the term "Twitter thug", by Rick Ross
Newspapers would have you believe the Twitter Thug emerged in January, 2010, when Jameg Blake allegedly killed Kwame Dancy with a shotgun blast to the neck in "the world's first Twitter murder." Never mind that the friends fell out over a real, live woman, not Primoris Era, or that the murder weapon was a firearm and not a retweet- they had argued over Twitter.
Dancy's mother, Madeline Smith, said she was stunned to learn that tweets between the friends could have led to murder.
'That's not a reason to shoot somebody,' she said.
'That's crazy. I don't know what's going on with that Twitter thing.'
Around the same time, street gangs were justifying the mini-blogging moral panic by using Twitter to set up fights and fuel disputes, leaving at least one young gang member wounded in a shooting in Harlem. Why were gangs turning to the new technology? "One 15-year-old in the 28 Gunnaz gang said it's just like any other "form of communication," except that the world can listen in on the conversation." As would be expected, police had caught on the that one minor difference and monitor timelines to prevent violence and search for clues. " 'It is another tool ... just like old phone records,' a police source said. 'We can go through them [messages] to track these guys.' "
For most of it's history, Twitter has just been just another tool, albeit a stupid one, for would-be thugs- Twitter Thugs - to communicate, like text messages, phone calls, or graffiti. Recently, however, a far more threatening set of Twitter Thugs, the Taliban, have begun to really exploit the potential of the social media website. Through their official account @alemarahweb, the Taliban have begun to post in English, usually citing exagerated casualties and death tolls in Afghanistan. This is more than just another ploy to "inspire" young Western Muslims like Jihadi rap, it's an attempt to control the narrative coming out of Afghanistan, and it may see some success.
More than their tapes, websites, and magazines, which even sympathisers know are propoganda, Twitter is all about breaking news before th media, which also means before there are reports to contradict it. Through @AlexOlesker, I know about the stories that are relevant for me on rap, cartels, technology and Unmanned Alcohlic Vehicles, hours or days before my non-tweeting friends see them in he news, if they make it there at all. Twitter is more than just "another form of communication", it's a platform for the information-starved and skeptical around the world, and the Taliban have begun to use it as a broken telehone to get their story out first to sympathisers ready to retweet and give it an air of legitimacy.
By Alex Olesker