Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fuchs Chapters 4 and 8

In Social Media and Communication Power, Fuchs describes how social media has become a key concept in media studies and public discourse. Social Media is described as a form of mass self-communication that has changed the power structure of society. When observing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. there is a massive amount of communication occurring between people. This communication can result in societal changes if enough people unite over a common cause. A good example of this is the ALS ice bucket challenge that raised over $100 million in donations due a to a social trend they started.  With the ability to reach so many people through the computer, social media has become the most powerful form of marketing and market research in the world. The interaction that occurs over social media is hardly different from the way humans interacted when civilization first started. Instead of being face-to-face people are behind a screen. What makes the Internet so powerful is the scale and speed of communication in a costly effective manner.  Those who have a large social media presence have a large media presence and are therefore have the ability to be powerful members of society. This goes hand-in-hand with Castell’s argument that the emergence of social media has shifted the power structure in society.

            In Twitter and Democracy social platforms such as Twitter are shown to have very powerful influences on society. Although sites such as Twitter are used primarily for entertainment and business motives, they can also have very profound political effects. This is most visible in the political crises that occurred in Egypt in 2011. The government found it necessary to shut down Facebook and Twitter and later put a hold on the Internet. Following the revolt that lead to the removal of Hosni Mubarak the media portrayed young activists as heroes who saved their country from turmoil. Mainstream press initiated a call for the ban of Twitter as it played a serious role in the situation. However, the phenomenon is unusual as the “trending” feature isn’t a substitute for a political organization and doesn’t lead to any form of action. Fuchs claims that face-to-face interaction leads to greater progress. I do agree with this statement, however, I wouldn’t downplay the importance of social media in activism. While most people do tend to sit back at their computers and not take action, awareness is still spread. Awareness is significant in inflicting change; therefore, social media has its role to play in the structure of society.

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