Social Confidence: People endorse information on social media by sharing it with their friends.

These endorsements increase the likelihood that information will be considered important. In Myanmar, influential Buddhist monks “tweeted” false information about Muslims, which contributed to support for violence against Muslims. But in India and Pakistan, prominent musicians used social media to support peace between the two countries, which may have contributed towards increased social confidence in these peace messages.

Unlike television or newspapers, a message on social media can travel faster (speed) and reach millions of people (scale) around the planet (scope). With digital technology, a person can post a message on any topic (speech freedom) with near total freedom of content unhampered by editors to millions of people with no or low cost (sticker price). A person can find other people interested in a topic (searchable) and then meet in chat rooms (space) to have private conversations (secrecy). Unlike legacy technology, digital technology is rapidly developing (swift developments) new ways to enable users to easily produce written, oral, and easy visual content (simple) to use and create. Unlike legacy media, digital media enables tech owners and governments to track user’s locations, friends, interests, and any digital activity (surveillance). And finally, unlike legacy media, information shared on social media carries legitimacy based on relationships (social confidence).

The goals of social media platforms

Leaders of social media corporations often seem genuine in their desire to contribute to social and political goods. Twitter’s mission is “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers”.

Social Media Profit Engines

Figure 1.4 Social Media Profit Engines

Twitter’s website states, “We believe in free expression and think every voice has the power to impact the world”. And the company’s page “Twitter for Good” outlines its civic engagement efforts to support social goods. Facebook’s mission is “to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. Facebook’s Social Good Forum rolls out new aspects of its platform to aid a variety of social goods, including crisis response, health, charitable giving and mentoring. And Facebook has observer status in the Global Network Initiative aimed at protecting human rights and corporate responsibility in the tech industry-

Understanding the way social media companies work is essential to analysing social media impacts on conflict and democracy. Figure 1.4 illustrates how three concepts—surveillance capitalism, the attention economy and algorithmic extremism—work together to generate profit for social media companies and generate negative impacts on society.

 
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