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Something’s Suspicious..

The above “gif” accurately depicts how I now enter various websites and apps. Prior to taking Media and Society, I would surf the web freely and without hesitation. After reading about Edward Snowden and his exposing of the NSA and their mass surveillance of us and watching Do Not Track which opens your mind to how your data is collected on the internet, I can no longer feel as safe on the web. And frankly… neither should you. To be honest, I never used to know what cookies were until I learned about them in class. Every time a website asked for access to my cookies, I would click yes without a second thought. By allowing a website to have access to your cookies, you could be giving away very valuable information. Cookies are essentially small files comprised of your preferences and history when it comes to using the internet and other websites want access to that. I think it is very important that our citizens know what cookies are and what is happening to their “privacy” every time they access the internet. The picture above is an accurate depiction of me when I now enter a website and/or get asked for my information. I think fellow internet users should have the same demeanor when entering the internet themselves. I am not trying to scare you all into not using the internet. The internet offers so many positive tools…my only advice is to tread a little more carefully and educate yourself of what happens to your data.

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Profits Over Humans

See the source image
https://tctechcrunch2011.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/iotglobe.jpg

When I came into this course I, as a film major, had assumed that media only encompassed social media and television/film. As the course went on my biggest take away was the full reach of the media and the internet. Through the use of the internet, media has become diluted, the use of social media and internet outlets have allowed massive amounts of misinformation to become available to the masses. Without a restricting or overarching body that can filter the false information there is no way to protect many people who would be susceptible to hate speech and the violence that would ensue. We see nowadays big companies have been sued and brought to court, yet they escape unscathed because of the first amendment. They facilitate these groups and allow them to go on unimpeded because they don’t want to lose profits from ads. They say that they want to uphold the first amendment to the loosest possible standard. But that amendment was created when there were maybe two media outlets, newspapers, and they could not mass produce their news like we can now. As times change, shouldn’t our laws change as well to keep up? We can no longer allow this hate speech and violence to be facilitated because these big companies don’t want to lose users or profits, lives and humanity is more important, but the people in charge do not see it that way.

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Importance of Attention

Buying Attention

The above image summarizes my biggest takeaway from this course; that our attention is constantly being fought for. The image shows multiple people each going about their lives seemingly in a hurry, the one thing all these individuals have in common is their faces are burried in a phone. To me this image shows the influence technology has in society. The evolution of technology is the reason attention is one of the most valuable things in the world. Companies, politicians, loved ones are in a constant war with one another trying to get more attention. Technology has allowed for us to have the world at our fingertips and for all of its benefits it does have its downfalls. I realized this when I performed the “Digital Detox” for this course. The digital detox showed me the power of human interaction and how there is benefits to slowing down and just being in the moment. When you have the world at your fingertips you must be able to seperate the good from the bad. An individual has to know and understand the concepts of flooding, trolls, fake news, advertisement and various other forms of media. This is crucial because unless you understand how these concepts work then you put yourself at risk to fall victim and have your decisions influenced by outside sources. When other people see this picture I hope it makes them think of the influence technology has in our lives especially during the COVID-19 outbreak. Once they see the influence it has I hope it encourages them to take a step back from their devices and interact more with the world and loved ones around them.

Sources:

https://images.app.goo.gl/gwKBFwMpVhPijCqS7

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Media Analysis

https://www.schoolwebmasters.com/Blog_Articles?entityid=234157

I believe that my biggest takeaway from this course has been the amount of power and influence that media has on society. It is almost as if media and different platforms shape our lives and the way we connect with each other. The image I chose shows men and women, all coming from different backgrounds and parts of the world. It shows all of the different ways that these people are using media, whether it be for streaming music, sending emails, browsing the web, or socializing on social media. It also shows links and connections between each of these people. I believe that these small connections symbolize that no matter how far apart we are in the world, through media we can always be connected and in a sense “together”. I never truly realized how media can do this before taking this course. Like the image suggests, distance between people all over the world seems a lot shorter through the use of media and the possibilities it allows. I think this is something that many of us will be able to relate to now. With all of us being home, although not in the way that is most ideal, we have still been able to keep in contact with many of our friends who may live further away from us. This is a concept that we are so used to, but when given deep thought, it can be had to grasp.

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Social Media Platforms Lack of Accountability

One example of United States legislation that excuses social media companies from liability from instances of communication depicting hatred and violence is Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act of 1996. It is said in Section 230 that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”. This is basically saying that social media companies that choose to display or share content from another source, no matter how violent or harmful it may be, shall not be punished in any way, shape or form. It is giving these platforms a pass, and an excuse to be able to display any content that they wish if they are not the original source.

The title of the chapter, “The Myth of a Neutral Platform”, in T. Gilespie’s book suggests that social media is not the utopia it can be made out to be. There is a wide belief among society that social media is a place where everyone can go to be safe and be treated fairly, but this title says otherwise. For instance, “on twitter every single day there are thousands of people from all different racial, ethnic, and gender groups attacked with no punishments” (Walker and Cook). This shows that despite some claims, there is a continuous persecution of people on social media.

Gillespie, Tarleton. Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media. Yale University Press, 2018

“47 U.S. Code § 230 – Protection for Private Blocking and Screening of Offensive Material.” Legal Information Institute, Legal Information Institute, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/47/230.

“Section 230.” CCIA, http://www.ccianet.org/section230/.

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Trolling and Flooding

Tim Wu argues that contemporary changes in speech control can cause language to be used almost as a weapon, through methods such as “trolling” and “flooding”. Wu states that “In Who Controls the Internet, Jack Goldsmith and I argued that powerful states would attempt to reshape the network and its architecture to serve their interests” (Wu 557). This points to his belief that governments are attempting to use their power to bend and manipulate the First Amendment. Personally, I usually use the media to keep up with sports, and on occasion check the news via social media platforms and the television. I believe that especially with social media being as popular as it is today, we see trolling and flooding all the time in the United States. I think with sports journalists and reporters we can see trolling all the time on their Twitters. Sometimes they have something against, or simply aren’t a fan of a particular athlete, and will troll them spreading a certain message.

Flooding is particularly relevant right now, with the Coronavirus pandemic going on. It is hard to avoid any news at all about Covid-19, as it seems like every screen in the country is plastered with the latest news and updates, which is constantly changing. This flooding has caused a lot of panic and distress in the country that many say is unnecessary. In New York we have daily coronavirus briefings which are surrounded by even more talk about the virus, though some do believe this is helpful.

I believe that new legal frameworks should definitely be thought about when it comes to trolling and flooding. Although many times it can be harmless, in other scenarios we can see trolling and flooding spreading harmful infomation and even ruining someone’s reputation.

“During Coronavirus Briefing, Governor Cuomo Issues Executive Order Allowing State to Increase Hospital Capacity.” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, 19 Mar. 2020, http://www.governor.ny.gov/news/during-coronavirus-briefing-governor-cuomo-issues-executive-order-allowing-state-increase.

Heath, Jon. “Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith Probably Regret These Tweets Right about Now.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 8 Feb. 2016, broncoswire.usatoday.com/2016/02/08/skip-bayless-and-stephen-a-smith-probably-regret-these-tweets-right-about-now/.

Wu, Tim. “Is the First Amendment Obsolete?” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2017, doi:10.2139/ssrn.3096337.

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Advertising and Strategies

The first advertisement I chose happens to be from Snickers. In the commercial, the scene is a backyard football game. Betty White is participating. She is knocked to the grown and then scolded by her teammates for her performance. It turns out that after eating a Snickers, this was not Betty White, as it was actually a man named Mike. The commercial is humorously and skeptically suggesting that Snickers can help you transform into yourself when you aren’t performing up to your normal capabilities. It is also skeptical that the man named Mike looked complete;y different before eating the snickers.

The second advertisement that I chose to include is from Doritos. In the commercial there is a little boy who becomes extremely offended when a man comes over to his house, who is possibly his mothers boyfriend, and he helps himself to a bowl of Doritos that was on the table. The boy, who appears to be around 5 years old, then slaps the man across the face. This is to suggest how much Doritos are prized and protected due to their taste. It is humorous because it is almost as if the boy is disciplining the grown man, although this is not a likely situation.

Raymond Williams suggests that the creators and companies behind many of the advertisements we see today are using the criticism and feedback they get to their advantage. They have been embracing public opinions and using it to their advantage in creating humorous and ridiculous advertisements in order to captivate their audiences. Williams says that due to the abundance of advertisements today, these companies have had to use this strategy in order to stand out. He states “it has become necessary to gain attention by magnificence of promises and by eloquence sometimes sublime and sometimes pathetic” (Williams 323).

Hafner, Josh. “The Funniest Super Bowl Commercials of All Time: Betty White, Terry Tate and Amazon Alexa.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 4 Feb. 2019, http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/Ad-Meter/2019/01/21/super-bowl-commercial-funniest-tv-ads-all-time/2634942002/.

Williams, Raymond. “Advertising: the Magic System.” Advertising & Society Review, vol. 1, no. 1, 2000, doi:10.1353/asr.2000.0016.

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Understanding of Media

Over the course of this past month, my understanding of the media and it’s capabilities has increased greatly. Prior to Covid-19 being declared a global pandemic and HWS colleges transitioning to remote learning, I knew that the impact that media has on society was powerful, but I wasn’t sure to what extent. We always hear how people today, especially my generation, spends far too much time engaging on social media and television. We see statistics about the influence media has on us and our learning, and how people are becoming less sociable as media advances. Sometimes it seems as if there are almost no limits to the things you can do and the information we can access through media. It can be overwhelming and often fascinating, which is why people may be so engaged in all it has to offer. Since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic, it seems as if everyone has been glued to their televisions, as the news is the primary source to gaining new information for many. I never really thought of watching the new as a necessity, although I always thought it was important. With new regulations and suggestions appearing daily, it is almost as if we must watch the news in order to know what is going on. As far is social life goes, I knew social media was a great way to stay connected with friends, but I never thought it could become our only means of communication with them. Danah Boyd asked teenagers prior to the pandemic, why they engage in social media. One responded with “Cuz that’s where all my friends are” (Boyd). This is even more true today. Now that we are all stuck in the house, I believe the benefits of social media are a lot clearer to see.

“Latest News.” Department of Health, coronavirus.health.ny.gov/latest-news.

Saiidi, Uptin. “Social Media Making Millennials Less Social: Study.” CNBC, CNBC, 19 Oct. 2015, http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/15/social-media-making-millennials-less-social-study.html.

Boyd, Danah. “Why Youth Heart Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life.” 2017, doi:10.31219/osf.io/22hq2.

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Study of media helps us question anything, not everything.

Image Source: Hawkes, Liam. “The Culture Industry and the Death of Culture.” The Norwich Radical. April 15, 2016. https://thenorwichradical.com/2016/04/15/the-culture-industry-and-the-death-of-culture/

We are surrounded by media most of the time. Advertisements, articles, social media posts, new shows being recommended on Netflix – anytime we go out or plug in, we are shown a constant stream of new things to look at. Part of the reason I took this class was to gain a deeper understanding of what I am shown every day, and I certainly got that. Whenever we looked at a piece of media or the history of a type of media, there were many layers to pull back and often several different angles or lenses to look through. A lot of times, the media in question had a hidden purpose, or a subtle message. One of the main takeaways I got from taking a media and society course was how important it was to question or delve into what we consume. The image above shows a man surrounded by commands, as if all of the advertisements and marketing on packaging had been stripped down to its ulterior motives. The simplification and unmasking of media was portrayed in the film They Live. However, things are not quite so easy for us as for the man in the picture. We consume hundreds of different forms of media every day. One news program that we glance at for five minutes might have a dozen people behind it, each with their own agenda, from the people who paid for advertising to the expert panel to someone being interviewed. We have no magic sunglasses that show us the real meaning that went into a piece of media, and unlike in this image, creators of media do not place their true intentions in bold print on a white background. The takeaway cannot be as straightforward as “question everything.” There literally is not enough time. Instead, hopefully, study of media can at least give us the tools we will need when we need to question enough to make an informed decision. And the rest of the time, as we are surrounded by an endless stream of content, it’s okay to let some of it go unanalyzed.

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A Coup by Fake News

We discussed a variety of different topics throughout this class. The one that caught my attention the most was the fabrication of fake news. This was particularly interesting to me because it is so relevant in today’s society.

I chose this picture because it depicts very clearly how fake news and false information is starting to take over. The truth is starting to be heard less and less and is almost being flooded out. Information on social media and the internet is starting to take control over the entire realm of information.

The spread of false information is often referred to as ‘Information Disorder.’ Information Disorder requires the spread false information to be deliberate. It is also often a tactic of destroying reputations. There are a lot of ways to go about spreading false information or even just guiding someone towards misleading intel. The one I see most commonly is creating a flood of information — to the point that it is almost impossible to tell what is real and not real.

According to Claire Wardle, it is important to specify what a person means when they use the term ‘fake news.’ She separates the spread of information into three different categories. Misinformation is ‘false information that is spread without any bad intentions.’ Disinformation is similar but it is ‘false information that is spread with harmful intent.’ And last is Malinformation; Malinformation is the spread of ‘truthful information with harmful intentions.’ https://datadetoxkit.org/en/wellbeing/fakenews

Why is the presentation and spread of false news so troubling to think about? When there is such a massive amount of information it becomes almost impossible to fact check and monitor everything that is being put out. Wardle calls this ‘information pollution.’

In a stand up presentation, Sascha Barron Cohen delves into this exact topic — he specifically talks about Facebook. Recently, Facebook and Mark Zuckerburg have been called out for failure to fact check any of the political advertisements that are posted. Zuckerburg argues that doing so would be a violation of the right to free speech. In response, Sascha Barron Cohen says not filtering through political posts can be truly detrimental in many ways. So much information is put out there that even incorrect information makes it to the feeds of the right people. He suggests maybe not posting the posts immediately and looking through them first. The rapid spread of misinformation is dangerous. It can both distort history as we know it and even more so, the entire existence of facts. It becomes almost impossible to determine if something has any truth to it. https://youtu.be/ymaWq5yZIYM

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Media Analysis

Above is the image I chose for this final blog post. It displays two people, acting as machines, transferring information through differenent social media platforms/uses to one another. One of the biggest takeaways I had from this class has been the influence of social media on people. How it shapes our views, beliefs, as well as our own self perspective. With an endless amount of information at our fingertips we can receive and put out information into the virtual world that can either positively or negatively impact another person(s). When looking back at everything we’ve gone over this past semester, much of it stems back to influence that media has on us. For instance in the presentation myself and Jaylon gave, we discussed woman in the technological workplace today. It displayed how media shapes influences and shapes our own views of what we “should” believe or act on when dealing with or discussing a certain topic. Another example is the male gaze in movies, it displays how it influences viewers to create this objectified perspective on woman. People also have the ability to post hateful things on the internet as well, as said in the last blog post, which can negatively infliuence and discriminate others. With all of these negative impacts, media can influence others in positive ways. Supportive posts and helpful videos can benefit others and help them learn and become better individuals. So, overall the influence that occurs is extremely important given the impact social media has on our society today. Especially during a time like this, technology and media is more important than ever in mending our society and being there to inform and help others.

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Blog Post 5

Most Popular Social Media Platforms Around the World - AddThis
https://www.addthis.com/blog/2019/06/06/most-popular-social-media-platforms-around-the-world/#.Xq92Ri2ZNQI

This image represents what I have taken away from this class as a whole. The overarching theme that I have taken away from the course is that media can connect you with the rest of the world, both from a recreational stand point and a professional stand point. Essentially I realized how encompassing the term media is, and how many different facets of media exist in the world. Before the course when asked about media I probably would have only thought about social media, but after taking the course I realize how it refers to everything from the internet to TV to twitter. I learned throughout the semester that media can be very influential, and can change the way the world operates. Like when we learned about Pussy Riot, and about how they have used media to change societal norms, and to encourage women to protest. Learning about this made me realize that media can be used to change countries for the better, when before I thought media was basically just YouTube videos. The course has also taught me that not all sources in media are trustworthy. Learning about trolling and flooding and propaganda bots made me realize that not everyone on the internet is who they claim to be, and you have to be cognizant of what agenda someone might be trying to inflict on you. In conclusion this course taught me the worldly importance of media, how media can be used professionally in the workplace, and how media can be used to influence and change cultures. With todays advanced media, we really do have the world at our finger tips.

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Safety Of Social Media

Social media allows people to share a lot of information or how they feel, even if the content isn’t appropriate. Terrorist attacks, hatred towards minorities, and other negative motives have been streamed or videos posted on platforms such as Reddit and Youtube. An example of U.S legislation which to this day excuses social media companies from liability towards moments that promote hatred/violence is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Basically, this act protects the websites when an individual does post something inappropriate, the website is not liable for this. The website (whether Youtube, Reddit,etc..) can also take down any videos that they may believe is promoting any hate, violence, or anything negative.

In “The Myth of a Neutral Platform” by T. Gilepsie, in other words the title means that no matter what content an individual puts out there, your opinions or views ok for one to post because they’ll be accepted or everyone will be “neutral” about everything. This is a myth because there are constantly people out there getting by with posting negative things or doing wrong to others. Yet it’s still difficult to identify certain ads or posts online that are negative, as Patrick and Dan said, because these people have protection through freedom of speech. With all the benefits and access to information we have at our fingertips, it also allows the creation of hate and violence that the rest of the world can see.

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Third Party Liability

A specific example of legislature that protects social media companies from being held liable for the actions or posts of a user on their platform, is section 230 of the communications decency act. Section 230 states that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider”. Ultimately it is saying that if the owners of Youtube are providing YouTube as a platform, they cannot be held responsible for the posts or interactions of one specific user on the platform. Basically any platform that publishes third-party content cannot be held responsible for the content of the third party. This information can be found at https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230.

The title of the chapter in Gilespies book is “The Myth of a Neutral Platform”. Dan and Patrick made the argument that these platforms cannot be neutral because of what happens daily on them, like racism, sexism, etc. To me, I believe that the platforms themselves can be neutral, but the content that is posted on them will never be controllable. For the platform to be neutral all that must happen is that everyone is treated with the same privileges with regard to censorship and accessibility. Although there is hate and bias on the platforms, that is from people who do not create the platforms, so therefore should not compromise the integrity of the platform itself.

Sources:

https://www.eff.org/issues/cda230

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First Amendment

One example of trolling in the United States media is the example of Russian propaganda bots. Russian propaganda bots are fake accounts that are used to promote certain ideas in order to make them seem favorable. The example I am talking about is from the 2016 US Presidential Election. Russian propaganda bots were used on twitter to influence the opinions of American voters.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=i&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.dailydot.com%2Fdebug%2Frussian-twitter-account-propaganda-bot%2F&psig=AOvVaw1OI9QMs9umeJDKU5fat5xX&ust=1587433181389000&source=images&cd=vfe&ved=0CAIQjRxqFwoTCJCe6Mnv9egCFQAAAAAdAAAAABAD

An example of flooding is from 2017 when the proposed revocation of net neutrality became available to the public for comments, millions of bots were put onto the site, flooding the site with thousands of fake comments.

U.S. Investigating Fake Comments on 'Net Neutrality' - WSJ
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-investigating-fake-comments-on-net-neutrality-1544482280

I agree with Wu that in the United States today, the changing communication techniques like flooding and trolling should be met with new legal frameworks that are better suited to deal with todays speech environment. If we do not adapt the legal parameters so that they change with the times, then old rules that have lost relevance may still exist. Like Vietnam introducing fines for fake corona virus information, there are circumstances that have risen in todays speech environment that old speech laws do not cover. As the speech environment, and media as a whole continue to change we must make sure we change our legislation accordingly.

Sources:

https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-investigating-fake-comments-on-net-neutrality-1544482280

Wu, Tim. Is the First Amendment Obsolete? canvas.hws.edu/courses/2684474/files?preview=168911955.