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Is Twitter a force for good?

January 20th, 2010
03:21 PM ET

The man who helped revolutionize the way we use computers, has finally hopped on the Twitter bandwagon by signing up for an account.

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/01/20/twitter.gates.art.gi.jpg caption ="Sites like Twitter have played a large role during the Haiti earthquake relief effort."]

Microsoft founder and Chairman, Bill Gates, created his Twitter account on Tuesday and in less than 24 hours, he has already amassed more than 160,000 followers.

Gates wrote in his first post on the micro-blogging site, "'Hello World.' Hard at work on my foundation letter — publishing on 1/25."

Twitter has 'verified' the account and has confirmed that Microsoft's Bill Gates created it.

One of the reason Gates decided to start a Twitter feed is so he can more readily promote his charity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The charity which specializes in promoting education and health in children was created by Gates and his wife and is funded using their money.

As we have seen through the past week, the power of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have proven invaluable in raising money or assisting in the relief effort.

That brings us to our blog question – is Twitter and other social networking sites a powerful force for good in the world or do you think it's a fad that will simply go away in a few years? Is it a pointless micro-blogging site or does it have serious value?

Please leave your comments below.

Filed under:  General
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Birungi Ives

    Anything that creates or supports communication as a global community is a good thing. With communication comes understanding. With understanding comes the motivation towards change for the greater good!

    January 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Reply
  2. Jack

    I am all for improving communication but there is SO MUCH information available today and the vast majority of Twitter traffic is mindless, self-centered drivel – I am looking for more wheat, not more chaff... Twitter does not help here and I am already bored with it

    January 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm | Reply
  3. Nick

    Is twitter a force of good?

    Perhaps you should be asking: What is twitter?
    A: Its a 'place' for twits and twats.

    Its for people who badly need attention but are not successful in getting any, and have nothing better to do with their lives. Why else would you have to advertise what you want to do, or where you want to go, or how you feel? Twitterati...no! Its twitterazzi!

    Ok, hopefully that should knock some sense into the heads of the twitsters and twatters!

    Good luck rethinking your lives.

    January 20, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  4. Linda

    it's just one more thing that takes us away from actually living, truly experiencing! Too many people are too occupied with trying to make the ordinary events of their lives extra-ordinary. Please, a little less is actually more.

    January 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  5. susan

    Twitter becomes a small megaphone. The question is what get's "twittered." It is the ultimate in Garbage In, Garbage Out. But, there are gems amongst all that dross – e.g. role in dissemination of information: Iran, (Haiti).

    The bigger revolution if the ability to use mobile devices, aka cellphones for microbanking – e.g. Africa, or as noted with Haiti, for small donations. Will these become the new "Red Kettles" as used by the Salvation Army?

    Twitter – and mobile access to internet – has decreased that news cycle to 60 (seconds.). I tend to think of it as bringing us closer to the Borg – where all are networked with the ability to know where/what the other(s) are doing.

    January 20, 2010 at 5:30 pm | Reply
  6. Lauren Bender

    It played a key role in helping me evacuate my sister from Haiti. So, while I find it has a small amount of value on a day-to-day basis, in times of crisis it is absolutely a force for good. And I have tweeted a lot of info to others in similar situations and believe that I may have been helpful to them in their quest to find and/or evacuate loved ones.

    January 20, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  7. Brandon

    There are positives and negatives for these networking sites. I am not so sure which outweighs the other.

    January 20, 2010 at 6:58 pm | Reply
  8. Mick McCuddin

    These social networking sites do have potential value. However, they also have the potential to be used for harm when they become sources of rumor, mis-information, or intentional maliciousness. Such potentially harmful information can be spread like wildfire to thousands of users and once disseminated, is almost impossible to refute, or correct. How can we protect against this? I don't know.

    January 20, 2010 at 8:29 pm | Reply
  9. Thomas Mathew

    Twitter is useful ,if the users avoid trash, and tweet what is relevant and informative .For mobilizing opinion (Iran ) and seeking / giving help (Haiti) twitter can be a very potent tool.

    January 20, 2010 at 8:35 pm | Reply
  10. Marianne

    I view Twitter as a little, high-IQ cousin to Facebook.

    Personally, I have accounts on both, but use them only occasionaly to keep in touch with friends and work colleagues from abroad. To many people Twitter is a way to be in constant touch with friends, family or co-workers; for some people I guess Twitter is a place to show off, or maybe to grab a little bit of spotlight which they'd never get otherwise. If it makes them happy, all's good. Those who complain about the others tweeting boring details of their lives, well... no one's forcing anyone to "follow" or read. Or go online at all.

    In the light of recent (Haiti) and not so recent events (e.g. terrorist attack on hotel in India), Twitter has shone as a perfect instant global way to communicate brand new, current information, even from places from which information might be hard to get out into the world. Twitter is also a means of sending a cry for help by someone who is trapped (in any way) only with his/her cell phone or similar device. Any such tweet gets instant response and mobilises thousands of people in a record time. And finally, it's easy for any humanitarian organisation to ask on Twitter for a donation. How many people might read such a tweet and decide they can spare one dollar? Thousands of poeple – thousads of dollars, all in a matter of hours.

    Due to all listed above, I think Twitter is – from the humanitarian and news-reporting point of view – a truly priceless invention.

    January 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm | Reply
  11. john mathai

    A quick way to know what is happening around our global village and to pray .

    January 20, 2010 at 9:54 pm | Reply
  12. Random

    Twitter is a fad and is useless.
    Facebook on the other hand actually helps people connect. I stay in touch with family and friends abroad using Facebook.

    Twitter is worthless in my honest opinion. Just a fad that will run out as soon as most celebs get bored/tired of it.

    January 20, 2010 at 10:14 pm | Reply
  13. marieshy

    i like nick's response

    January 20, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Reply
  14. Windy

    I think Facebook is a better "connector" than Twitter. As pointed out by at least one other, it's great for keeping in contact with family and friends abroad, with less (although not completely devoid) of the inanity inherent in Twitter.

    That said, Twitter is great at spreading news. So while a lot of what goes up on it is gossip, or people giving every last detail of their mundane lives, it also has great potential for starting movements or spreading awareness. Twitter's helped spread info (and probably some dis-info, too) about things like the protests in Iran, and has helped rally donors for Haiti.

    January 21, 2010 at 12:06 am | Reply
  15. Sotto

    Jack (1705 GMT), Nick (1724 GMT) and Linda (1729 GMT) have said it all. Twitter is for people with no real life, fulfilled by experiencing unreal connections. 99,9% of twitter posts are simple garbage with no information. In the meanwhile there are huge amounts of information in Internet that become harder to find in the middle of so much garbage. We need some tool to organize all that information, something like a massive directory – what http://www.dmoz.org has attempted to do and what http://www.mapitol.com is trying.

    January 21, 2010 at 1:40 am | Reply
  16. KlondikeJack

    Twitter is the worst of puerile worthlessness, a megaphone for GIGO! One hopes its popularity will eventually die a natural death.

    January 21, 2010 at 2:03 am | Reply
  17. Sundeep Kapur

    I first realized the power of Twitter on 11/26/08 when I leveraged Twitter to learn about the terrorist attack in Mumbai, India. http://www.emailyogi.com/2008/11/power-of-twitter.html is an article that explained how people leveraged it. Since then I have been amazed by the selfless method by which people can carry the buzz or spread the word.

    Michael Jacksons' death, election results, Haiti – the power continues.

    January 21, 2010 at 3:28 am | Reply
  18. Ang Ah Sin

    Every tool is not for everyone. So, it is the same with Twitter or any of the social media like Facebook.

    For many, Twitter will just be their online text messages instead of through their cell phones; or their online diary; or some hobby that will come on hot and fade away when they run out of things to say.

    Dell made $6.5m through Twitter because it knows how to utilise it to reach their customers.

    It is not new to me but like Bill, I have just jump into the bandwagon because it can help my organization.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:52 am | Reply
  19. Mark


    January 21, 2010 at 8:42 am | Reply
  20. Kevin Cassidy

    Twitter is neither good nor bad – it all depends on what you do with it.

    If you login here and say "Twitter is a fad and a waste of time" ... are you making better use of your time by bothering to say that?

    Seems to me it's as simple as watching the Twitter was used by people being victimized on the streets of Iran to determine Twitter's potential value.

    That certainly held more value than articles about how many followers Bill Gates has. All Microsoft has done is lower the bar for quality operating systems.

    January 21, 2010 at 9:22 am | Reply
  21. Lauren Bender

    I wonder who all of the people complaining about garbage in garbage out are following? If you don't follow inane people, you don't get inane tweets. I agree that there is a lot of useless information on Twitter, but that is the case with all forms of media. It's up to the user to choose well so that they can get the information that is useful and/or interesting to them.

    January 21, 2010 at 6:41 pm | Reply
  22. Jay

    Twitter: the lowliest of the lowest form of voyeurism. The lowest and baddest form of human social evolution. Unfit for higher soiety.

    January 26, 2010 at 9:09 am | Reply
  23. Hunter Peterson

    Yes they are great its a way to talk to friends and a way you can share pics. Alot of cool stufff is on there i think its great for a websites.

    February 4, 2010 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  24. Thomas Mathew

    Twitter is the easiest platform to have one's voice heard,express views, and mobilize opinion en masse

    February 5, 2010 at 6:54 am | Reply
  25. Mauricio

    I have glooge + account and one thing for sure am not gna send invites to my FB friends....!anyway it is pretty awesome, i like the "start a hangout" feature.

    February 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Reply

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