At first glance, a major study released last week showing higher percentages of blacks and Latinos than whites using Twitter seemed like a cyberutopian’s dream come true. The blogosphere applauded what looked like real data showing that social media and the Internet were realizing their potential to bring diverse groups together in a virtual space in a way they wouldn’t in the real world.

But hold those hallelujah’s for a moment. For a reality check, I got in touch with an acquaintance, Ethan Zuckerman of Harvard University’s Berkman Center for the Internet and Society. As co-founder of Global Voices, a nonprofit that recruits bloggers from around the world to write about their communities, he’s done as much as anyone to bring a diverse set of people onto the Web.

While Zuckerman’s résumé might read like that of a digital idealist, he’s really more cyberpragmatist. And his take was sobering: The Internet and social media are reinforcing the silos that we live in, not breaking them down.

“What happens on a social network is you interact with the people that you have chosen to interact with,” Zuckerman said during a presentation earlier this year at TEDGlobal 2010. “And if you are like me, a big, geeky, white, American guy, you tend to interact with a lot of other geeky, white, American guys.”

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One thought on “Twitter users may be diverse, but are they talking to each other?”
  1. Interesting stuff… I would tend to disagree. I meet and interact with individuals across a wide and varying network with unique interests.

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