She's trying to archive Black Twitter. It's a delicate and imperfect task
Black Twitter has been a force since the platform started, creating a space for everything from discussing daily life to helping launch and spotlight movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #OscarsSoWhite.
Now, one woman is seeking to archive it, as Twitter's future appears uncertain.
Who is she? Meredith Clark is an associate professor of communications and journalism at Northeastern University. She is launching the Archiving Black Twitter project as part of the Archiving the Black Web initiative.
What's the big deal? Clark says preserving Black Twitter will allow for a more accurate and complex retelling of the history of the internet. But it's not a simple task.
Want more tech journalism? Listen to the Consider This episode on how social media use impacts teen mental health.
What is Clark saying? Speaking to NPR's Juana Summers, Clark outlined why the project was important — and feeling increasingly urgent.
On the power of preserving stories:
The power of that preservation is making sure that accurate narratives are told. There are so many instances where people might have forgotten about the truth of how something unfolded. One that sticks out in my mind is that, recently, there was coverage that made reference to Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina, signing legislation to take down the Confederate flag over that state's Capitol following the massacre of the Emanuel Nine. And I took issue with that reporting because it erased the work of Bree Newsome and her comrades in actually scaling the flagpole at the state Capitol and taking that flag down. And without the witnessing that folks were able to do on Twitter, that narrative might be lost. And I think that that is just one reflection of many stories that require us to have plenty of evidence to make sure that they are told correctly.
On whether the changing dynamics of Twitter itself add more urgency to the work she's doing:
It does. It almost adds a sense of desperation. At this point, Twitter is now reaching out to researchers who have large-scale Twitter datasets and, in some cases, asking them to delete that data. And if that data is deleted, then it leaves those of us who study this grasping for information and grasping for records.
The next phase of #ATBW is driven by an urgent call to action to establish a more equitable and accessible web archiving practice to effectively document the Black experience online. pic.twitter.com/goD6JmDAIa— Archiving The Black Web (@ArchivingTBW) March 24, 2023
So, what now?
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.