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Why Isn’t Twitter Paying More Attention to Its Black Users?

One critic says the company missed a big opportunity with the BET Awards
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Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Tristan Walker, a prominent black entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, logged onto Twitter after putting his kids to bed last night and found that the BET Awards were dominating his feed. The Black Entertainment Television program had also captured several slots on Twitter's list of trending topics. However, the event wasn't getting the kind of special treatment Twitter has given to other award shows such as the Grammys and Country Music Awards. The company “should pay attention,” Walker tweeted, rekindling a conversation about the lack of diversity in technology.

Twitter wasn't exactly ignoring the BET Awards. The company has been working with the event's organizers over the past several years. For this year's show, Twitter staff spent time training them on behind-the-scenes broadcasting from the company's Periscope app, provided a back-stage selfie camera, and published a blog post with highlights from the show. BET was paying Twitter to advertise on its Trends list and for some of the tweets related to it. Competing social network Snapchat was promoting a live story for the BET Awards on June 28, featuring a stream of pictures and video from attendees and fans.