By now, everybody surely knows that Twitter is taking over the world. “It is everywhere, it is constant and it is not going anywhere.” I was reminded this while reading about the considerable impact the social media app has had on the NCAA Basketball Championships. By tracking the ratio of positive and negative comments about each game, data company Prime Visibility believes that Twitter is able to accurately predict 74% of games. This is quite remarkable as the favorite in any game during March Madness wins at a 71% rate.
“For example, social media’s bracket on Thursday night probably beat yours. The company got 13 out of 16 games correct—the three losses (Baylor, Iowa State and LSU) were each by a single point. That puts it ahead of 98.7 percent of brackets at ESPN, and with hope to do even better: All of its Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four teams are still alive.”
In addition to the significant analytical power the app has, it has an equal if not bigger social impact. Fans, broadcasters, players, and coaches alike have seen the benefits it can bring to the game. Famed announcer Clarke Kellogg says “I do get on and I enjoy when fans respond and we can have some fun, because you can learn a little bit too about people’s passions and their own observations.” His CBS colleague Allie LaForce added “I think it is how news breaks. I’m constantly searching Twitter during the game to check injuries and other news from around the tournament, and see what player’s family members are tweeting during the game. That is stuff that gets on-air now. Social media is huge.”
Reading about the power of Twitter, analytically and socially, has made me take a step back and really think deeply about what is going on here. Someone, anywhere in the world, can type into a phone and have a conversation with a broadcaster while he calls the game on national television! A 10-year-old Wisconsin fan can ask Frank Kaminsky a question and receive an immediate response! The connectivity social media provides is beyond remarkable. The value of being Facebook friends with or having the twitter handle of John Smith, with whom you went to elementary school but haven’t spoke to in thirty years is that you can now instantly contact him should anything require it. Should anything in the world come up in which you need John Smith or if you simply want to reconnect, you now have the power to instantly reach out to him. You don’t need to know his telephone number or his address.
Throughout this course, I’ve been particularly fascinated with the awareness of just how big the depth and breadth of the internet are. One of the main takeaways for me has been the realization of how truly powerful it can be. Fans connecting with their role-models, strangers debating shared interests, and being able to contact a long, lost friend are incredible but I believe that it is so important that, at the very least, you’re aware of the fact that being able to instantly broadcast a message for the entire world to see means that anybody is able to instantly broadcast a message for the entire world to see. To me, the magnitude of this power that that portrays is scary and reminds me to protect myself from exposing too much personal information.