How we use Twitter has made this decade better

The social media platform, despite its flaws, has helped ordinary people change our world

It is impossible to avoid news about how harmful social media can be. The Cambridge Analytica scandal. The ubiquitous Russian bots. The lackadaisical response of tech industry leaders to privacy violations, election meddling and harassment.

All the optimism about social media as a vehicle for social change that followed the Arab Spring in 2011 has largely dissipated. Twitter - which once prompted users with the innocuous question "What are you doing?" - is now better known as a home for unforgiving criticism, stripped of the politeness that can soften real-life interactions. Many have become social media cynics.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 29, 2019, with the headline 'How we use Twitter has made this decade better'. Print Edition | Subscribe