Blitter: an App Created Specifically for Black Twitter Users

If you’re a black tweeter, then you know all about the BET Awards commentary that kicked off at six with the pre-show until the very last performance around 11. It’s a night when even casual tweeters pop out to share their roasts and toasts to the performing artists.

 

And if you’re a black Tumblr user, then you know all about the waves of hashtags that appear when footage of another one of our fathers, sons or daughters is killed at the hands of the police.

Black social media encompasses the wide spectrum of events and emotions that come together to create the black experience. Social media is known to connect people with similar narratives from across the globe. For black users, social media provides us with a forum to voice our concerns, relish in our advancements, and come together like a big family.

I shy away from calling social media a safe space for black users for several reasons. While platforms like Twitter and Tumblr seem to be especially conducive to curating very specific communities, they’re often infiltrated by trolls. And unfortunately, we’re not talking about the cute little monsters. Trolls create discord in our online spaces by posting derogatory and inflammatory comments. Trolls are not blissfully ignorant; they enter these blogospheres with malicious intent. Issues like this, as well as the appropriation of black content, have prompted the discussion on whether there should be social media platforms created specifically for black users.

Launched on Oct. 5, 2017, Blitter is an independently black-owned social media app for black Twitter users. Blitter is similar to Twitter: users can create 120-character posts (known as bleets) with embedded videos, limited to 15 seconds in length, and images. The app’s interface includes a popular and recent section. Having been on the app store for less than two weeks, Blitter is still a bit glitchy; however, founder and developer Patrick Harris, is working hard to get rid of bugs.

 Patrick Harris is working hard to keep up with feedback from Blitter’s first users. Here is a screen capture from the iOS app’s most recent update.

Patrick Harris is working hard to keep up with feedback from Blitter’s first users. Here is a screen capture from the iOS app’s most recent update.

Patrick Harris is working hard to keep up with feedback from Blitter’s first users. Here is a screen capture from the iOS app’s most recent update.

While there are mixed reactions to Blitter’s release, the app is anticipated to be a hit for its strict policies against “racism, sexism, harassment, bots, or hate speech whatsoever.” Twitter’s policies make it easy for anyone to create a bot account or harass other users without harsh repercussions. On Blitter, any account guilty of creating racist or sexist posts will be promptly deleted.

Blitter seems like a dream app for black users hoping to escape the troll blogosphere condoned by Twitter’s policies. However, the trolls and ignorance of Twitter is, in part, what makes Black Twitter so powerful. It’s hard to raise awareness on a topic in an exclusive space that already knows the issue exists.

Think about the recent Bella Hadid interview. It is awkward and funny because ingrained within it is the issue of whether non-black people can use African American Vernacular English (AAVE). On Twitter, the meme functions as a conversation starter between blacks and non-blacks. But with an app like Blitter, the same cross-cultural dialogue couldn’t be curated.

Blitter is a powerful tool that is best suited for the uplifting and encouragement of the black community. But, Twitter, despite the seemingly incessant and blissful ignorance, allows Black Twitter to be a vessel for widespread change.