News being socially shared: its origins and implications

Social News Sharing & It’s Services – ARIN2610 Hypertextual Multimedia Essay (410020300)

Social sharing services, including social networks and social media, have become a pinnacle of communication norm, and present opportunities and challenges on political, economic, and cultural levels. The following aims to explore the notion in which social sharing services integrate into the Internet-indulged world we operate in today, and as such, we will explore such social sharing services in three key ways. Firstly, the historical origins of social media and how it trends within communications media, secondly the primary power who controls the key business of social network platforms, and thirdly the benefits social media and networks provide for a political, economic, and cultural standpoint. Throughout these key ideas we will explore specific examples that represent the realism of how social sharing services pose both positive and negative consequences for particular groups.


The origins of social sharing: historical trends in communications media

Firstly, it is imperative we understand the origins of social networks, social media, and how they play a substantial role in the historical trends of communications media. There is much discussion to the origins of social sharing as far back as 550 B.C, yet to look at the contemporary, Hendricks (2013) and Van Dijck (2013, pp. 9) focus on the develops of the Internet since the 1960s when it was first kindled and began a movement, so let’s briefly overview some key dates from beginnings until now. Hendricks (2013) highlights throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s there was a continuation of online communications development; from early forms of email, to UseNet of the virtual newsletter, Internet Chat Relays (IRC) were first used in 1988 and continued into the 90s. Van Dijck (2013, pp. 9) pinpoints the first recognisable social media platform known as Six Degrees in 1997, a simple concept of user-profile sharing with friends and the unknown. Furthermore, Van Dijck addresses the significance to the birth of online blogging in 1999, and yet still widely popular to this day.

Throughout the 2000s, Hendricks (2013) places emphasis on Web 2.0, enabling the expansion of social media with the introduction of sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Photobucket and Flickr, and in particular to video, YouTube was launched in 2005 as completely redesigned way of communication globally. Van Dijck (2013, pp. 10) presents us with challenges with the emergence of Facebook and Twitter in 2006, implying that the rise of social media and its networks pose a problem for the human individual, that being the increase of needs to connect with others an create a sense of purpose. Van Dijck continues to suggest that theorist Henry Jenkins labelled this period as the ‘convergence culture,’ of old and new coexisting, ultimately becoming the new norm of human interaction, thus online communications. Van Dijck (2013, pp. 11-14) recognises the significance of social sharing services throughout history, and its role in particular has shaped the way we communicate with others socially and culturally. The trends we find from the birth of the Internet until now concludes to the ongoing need for humans to interact with others on an online basis, and that will continue until the next significant milestone within the Internet world of communications.


The super-power of social network business

Secondly, we will briefly discuss the super-powers within the social network business, and ultimately who currently controls the pieces on the board. Social media networks are not simply a port or means of communication from A to B, it is further a business of online interaction between individuals and groups. Iosifidis (2016, pp. 2) recognises particularly Facebook as a leading revenue business networks the world has to offer, currently trafficking over 1.5 billion users within social media activity he claims. Furthermore he reiterates that Facebook is the leading network platform for marketing and advertisement due to their ‘user-specific’ methods, that being potential data of user information collected, and in doing so targets the appropriate and relevant content displayed. In addition, Salehan et al. (2018, pp. 3597) heavily supports the issue of user-privacy within the social media world, proposing that a key concern individuals have with social sharing services is their privacy, and how that privacy of information is handled online. Furthermore, Salehan et al. imply that personal information, once online, is readily available to the general public with some basic searching. Trust seems to be a key component for a social network to become successful, Facebook in this regard has been successful in doing so until recent claims of their privacy breaches to personal information.


Benefits & non-benefits: a political, economic, social and cultural analysis

Lastly, there are those who benefit and those who don’t within the world of social sharing services, in which we will explore on a political, economic, social and cultural basis. Commencing with the political aspect, there is speculation as to how relevant social media is, and what benefits it provides or simply rather do politics not benefit at all? Interestingly enough, Murse (2018) provides us with ten influential factors that change the way politics are campaigning through Facebook and Twitter. To reference just a few, there are examples such as instant contact with voters, free advertising, campaigns going viral, and instant feedback. Looking at the perspective of experimentation, Hong (2013) testing the association between the U.S House of Representatives using Twitter and fundraising, resulting in pros and cons. Overall, Hong (2013, pp. 470) implies that social media use increased funding from outside sources, yet not significantly within its own constitutions. A significant implication Hong finds however includes the decrease physical distance of representative and viewer. In clarity, the use of social media can bring about new people into the political world, thus expanding a political goal further than before.

The economy is a forever fluctuating and changing system that is heavily dependent on the flow of primarily financial factors, so how does social media networks play a role? Dell’Anno et al. (2016, pp. 633) measures the correlation between economic growth and social media use. It seems as though their findings suggest that social media use has an extreme negative effect on growth, particularly due to substantial increases in social media use worldwide. Primarily they found that transaction costs from published content, and in addition the work efficiency model has significantly decreased in the workplace due to social media distraction, thus less productivity, both negative effects. However it is not all negative, Desjardins (2017) on Quora proposed key benefits of economy influence such as the launch of small businesses, less barriers to reach information, a new array of online ecosystems, and the control of content across platforms. In particular to the control of content, platforms such as YouTube and Facebook can allow which content to be displayed (or not displayed), and Desjardins further suggests these platforms have become some of the largest companies worldwide. Cohn (2010) further provides inside into large benefits of social media in currently weak economies, primarily due to low advertising costs, allowed consumer contact, and particularly allowed consumers to view the products or services that fit their criteria, rather than what is marketed.

Social and cultural change is our last area of discussion, and particularly how social media networks create benefits and positive change. One key benefit for the social aspect is the ability to share and communicate instantly online. Baym (2015, pp. 2-5) provides us with absolute reason why social media is so critical in today’s business of communications on a social level. It enables the unknown to connect with the unknown, even under an alias or avatar. On a side note of social benefits, popular social media platforms, Facebook for example, have been particularly clever in marketing and advertising to the individual. This being an individual particularly drawn to the things they want to see or search (Halavais, 2013), or simply the relevant advertisements and marketing that draw users to a service or product. For example the advertisement of water has been heavily marketed for the everyday consumer, e.g. Mount Franklin. More of a physical everyday example but none the less illustrates the idea behind the wants of the everyday consumer.

The impacts that social media bring to culture have heavily influenced social protests, campaigning, communication and public participation, just to name a few. Furedi (2015) highlights some of the above reserved issues in correlation to human behaviour, yet beneficial. He claims that social media has the potential and power to create movements of public participation, highlight meaning for new ideas and concepts, and create a whole now world of sub-cultures. For example these sub-cultures may include car enthusiasts, gamer groups, or food lovers. Referring back to Van Dijck (2013, pp. 66), she refers to Facebook as the cultural changing force, dominant and powerful within the online world. Although there are vulnerable discrepancies including Facebook’s privacy scandal, Van Dijck identifies the company as a solid implementation into today’s cultural movements, becoming a historical ideology, a path for social opportunities.


Placing everything together

We have explored some key ideas regarding social sharing services, and particularly how its historical significance sheds light on our understand within the Internet world. From the origins of the Internet in the 1960s until now there has been a ongoing and increasing reliance on social sharing services for a multitude of purposes. The world we operate in today is heavily reliant on the process and functions that social media networks provide, and furthermore we have discussed some of the implications social they provide on a political, economic, social and cultural basis. We have briefly overviewed some benefits and implications on political decisions and campaigns, and how social media can produce negative impacts towards the economy, yet at the same time it can be beneficial during economic recess. There are many more variables to discuss regarding the benefits and consequences of social and cultural norms in today’s secular society, and in addition how these norms act as communicative needs and wants.



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About stuart_tks1 2 Articles
Science and Arts student at the University of Sydney. Enjoys outdoor activities and photography.

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