Social media

Social media are interactive technologies that facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, interests, and other forms of expression through virtual communities and networks. While challenges to the definition of social media arise due to the variety of stand-alone and built-in social media services currently available, there are some common features:

* Social media are interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications.
* User-generated content such as text posts or comments, digital photos or videos, and data generated through all online interactions is the lifeblood of social media.
* Users create service-specific profiles for the website or app that are designed and maintained by the social media organization.
* Social media helps the development of online social networks by connecting a user’s profile with those of other individuals or groups

Users usually access social media services through web-based apps on desktops or download services that offer social media functionality to their mobile devices (e.g., smartphones and tablets). As users engage with these electronic services, they create highly interactive platforms which individuals, communities, and organizations can share, co-create, discuss, participate, and modify user-generated or self-curated content posted online. Additionally, social media are used to document memories; learn about and explore things; advertise oneself; and form friendships along with the growth of ideas from the creation of blogs, podcasts, videos, and gaming sites.This changing relationship between humans and technology is the focus of the emerging field of technological self-studies.Some of the most popular social media websites, with more than 100 million registered users, include Facebook (and its associated Facebook Messenger), TikTok, WeChat, Instagram, QZone, Weibo, Twitter, Tumblr, Baidu Tieba, and LinkedIn. Depending on interpretation, other popular platforms that are sometimes referred to as social media services include YouTube, QQ, Quora, Telegram, WhatsApp, Signal, LINE, Snapchat, Pinterest, Viber, Reddit, Discord, VK, Microsoft Teams, and more. Wikis are examples of collaborative content creation.

Many social media outlets differ from traditional media (e.g., print magazines and newspapers, TV, and radio broadcasting) in many ways, including quality,reach, frequency, usability, relevancy, and permanence. Additionally, social media outlets operate in a dialogic transmission system, i.e., many sources to many receivers, while traditional media outlets operate under a monologic transmission model (i.e., one source to many receivers). For instance, a newspaper is delivered to many subscribers and a radio station broadcasts the same programs to an entire city.

Since the dramatic expansion of the Internet, digital media or digital rhetoric can be used to represent or identify a culture. Studying how the rhetoric that exists in the digital environment has become a crucial new process for many scholars.

Observers have noted a wide range of positive and negative impacts when it comes to the use of social media. Social media can help to improve an individual’s sense of connectedness with real or online communities and can be an effective communication (or marketing) tool for corporations, entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, advocacy groups, political parties, and governments. Observers have also seen that there has been a rise in social movements using social media as a tool for communicating and organizing in times of political unrest.

History of social media :

Early computing:

The PLATO system was launched in 1960, after being developed at the University of Illinois and subsequently commercially marketed by Control Data Corporation. It offered early forms of social media features with 1973-era innovations such as Notes, PLATO’s message-forum application; TERM-talk, its instant-messaging feature; Talkomatic, perhaps the first online chat room; News Report, a crowdsourced online newspaper, and blog; and Access Lists, enabling the owner of a note file or other application to limit access to a certain set of users, for example, only friends, classmates, or co-workers.

ARPANET, which first came online in 1967, had by the late-1970s developed a rich cultural exchange of non-government/business ideas and communication, as evidenced by the network etiquette (or ‘netiquette’) described in a 1982 handbook on computing at MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.ARPANET evolved into the Internet following the publication of the first Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) specification, RFC 675 (Specification of Internet Transmission Control Program), written by Vint Cerf, Yogen Dalal and Carl Sunshine in 1974. This became the foundation of Usenet, conceived by Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis in 1979 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University, and established in 1980.

A precursor of the electronic bulletin board system (BBS), known as Community Memory, appeared by 1973. True electronic BBSs arrived with the Computer Bulletin Board System in Chicago, which first came online on February 16, 1978. Before long, most major cities had more than one BBS running on TRS-80, Apple II, Atari, IBM PC, Commodore 64, Sinclair, and similar personal computers. The IBM PC was introduced in 1981, and subsequent models of both Mac computers and PCs were used throughout the 1980s. Multiple modems, followed by specialized telecommunication hardware, allowed many users to be online simultaneously. Compuserve, Prodigy and AOL were three of the largest BBS companies and were the first to migrate to the Internet in the 1990s. Between the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s, BBSes numbered in the tens of thousands in North America alone. Message forums (a specific structure of social media) arose with the BBS phenomenon throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. When the World Wide Web (WWW, or ‘the web’) was added to the Internet in the mid-1990s, message forums migrated to the web, becoming Internet forums, primarily due to cheaper per-person access as well as the ability to handle far more people simultaneously than telco modem banks.

Digital imaging and semiconductor image sensor technology facilitated the development and rise of social media. Advances in metal-oxide-semiconductor (MOS) semiconductor device fabrication, reaching smaller micron and then sub-micron levels during the 1980s–1990s, led to the development of the NMOS (n-type MOS) active-pixel sensor (APS) at Olympus in 1985, and then the complementary MOS (CMOS) active-pixel sensor (CMOS sensor) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in 1993.CMOS sensors enabled the mass proliferation of digital cameras and camera phones, which bolstered the rise of social media.

Social impacts


The digital divide is a measure of disparity in the level of access to technology between households, socioeconomic levels or other demographic categories.People who are homeless, living in poverty, elderly people and those living in rural or remote communities may have little or no access to computers and the Internet; in contrast, middle class and upper-class people in urban areas have very high rates of computer and Internet access. Other models argue that within a modern information society, some individuals produce Internet content while others only consume it, which could be a result of disparities in the education system where only some teachers integrate technology into the classroom and teach critical thinking. While social media has differences among age groups, a 2010 study in the United States found no racial divide. Some zero-rating programs offer subsidized data access to certain websites on low-cost plans. Critics say that this is an anti-competitive program that undermines net neutrality and creates a “walled garden”for platforms like Facebook Zero. A 2015 study found that 65% of Nigerians, 61% of Indonesians, and 58% of Indians agree with the statement that “Facebook is the Internet” compared with only 5% in the US.

Political polarization:

According to the Pew Research Center, a majority of Americans at least occasionally receive news from social media. Because of algorithms on social media which filter and display news content which are likely to match their users’ political preferences, a potential impact of receiving news from social media includes an increase in political polarization due to selective exposure. Political polarization refers to when an individual’s stance on a topic is more likely to be strictly defined by their identification with a specific political party or ideology than on other factors. Selective exposure occurs when an individual favors information that supports their beliefs and avoids information that conflicts with their beliefs. A study by Hayat and Samuel-Azran conducted during the 2016 U.S. presidential election observed an “echo chamber” effect of selective exposure among 27,811 Twitter users following the content of cable news shows.The Twitter users observed in the study were found to have little interaction with users and content whose beliefs were different from their own, possibly heightening polarization effects. Another study using U.S. elections, conducted by Evans and Clark, revealed gender differences in the political use of Twitter between candidates.Whilst politics is a male dominated arena, on social media the situation appears to be the opposite, with women discussing policy issues at a higher rate than their male counter-parts. The study concluded that an increase in female candidates directly correlates to an increase in the amount of attention paid to policy issues, potentially heightening political polarization.

Stereotyping :

Recent research has demonstrated that social media, and media in general, have the power to increase the scope of stereotypes not only in children but people of all ages.Three researchers at Blanquerna University, Spain, examined how adolescents interact with social media and specifically Facebook. They suggest that interactions on the website encourage representing oneself in the traditional gender constructs, which helps maintain gender stereotypes. The authors noted that girls generally show more emotion in their posts and more frequently change their profile pictures, which according to some psychologists can lead to self-objectification. On the other hand, the researchers found that boys prefer to portray themselves as strong, independent, and powerful. For example, men often post pictures of objects and not themselves, and rarely change their profile pictures; using the pages more for entertainment and pragmatic reasons. In contrast, girls generally post more images that include themselves, friends and things they have emotional ties to, which the researchers attributed that to the higher emotional intelligence of girls at a younger age. The authors sampled over 632 girls and boys from the ages of 12–16 from Spain in an effort to confirm their beliefs. The researchers concluded that masculinity is more commonly associated with positive psychological well-being, while femininity displays less psychological well-being. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that people tend not to completely conform to either stereotype, and encompass desirable parts of both. Users of Facebook generally use their profiles to reflect that they are a “normal” person. Social media was found to uphold gender stereotypes both feminine and masculine. The researchers also noted that traditional stereotypes are often upheld by boys more so than girls. The authors described how neither stereotype was entirely positive, but most people viewed masculine values as more positive.

Effects on youth communication:

Social media has allowed for mass cultural exchange and intercultural communication. As different cultures have different value systems, cultural themes, grammar, and world views, they also communicate differently.The emergence of social media platforms fused together different cultures and their communication methods, blending together various cultural thinking patterns and expression styles

Social media has affected the way youth communicate, by introducing new forms of language. Abbreviations have been introduced to cut down on the time it takes to respond online. The commonly known “LOL” has become globally recognized as the abbreviation for “laugh out loud” thanks to social media.

Social media has offered a new platform for peer pressure with both positive and negative communication. From Facebook comments to likes on Instagram, how the youth communicate, and what is socially acceptable is now heavily based on social media.Social media does make kids and young adults more susceptible to peer pressure. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also shown that bullying, the making of non-inclusive friend groups, and sexual experimentation have increased situations related to cyberbullying, issues with privacy, and the act of sending sexual images or messages to someone’s mobile device. On the other hand, social media also benefits the youth and how they communicate. Adolescents can learn basic social and technical skills that are essential in society. Through the use of social media, kids and young adults are able to strengthen relationships by keeping in touch with friends and family, make more friends, and participate in community engagement activities and services.

Deceased users:

Social media content, like most content on the web, will continue to persist unless the user deletes it. This brings up the inevitable question of what to do once a social media user dies, and no longer has access to their content.As it is a topic that is often left undiscussed, it is important to note that each social media platform, e.g., Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, has created its own guidelines for users who have died.In most cases on social media, the platforms require a next-of-kin to prove that the user is deceased, and then give them the option of closing the account or maintaining it in a ‘legacy’ status. Ultimately, social media users should make decisions about what happens to their social media accounts before they pass, and make sure their instructions are passed on to their next-of-kin

The end….