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.
The internet and various social media platforms can truly be a blessing and a curse. Are platforms such as YouTube and Facebook fair? The answer is no, and with U.S legislations assisting these tech companies, justice is hardly brought forward. Section 230 which trickles down from the Communications Decency Act of 1996 serves to essentially protect social media companies from what is being posted on their platform. Section 230 allows social media companies to not be liable for what is posted on their site in accordance with the First Amendment (freedom of speech). However, Section 230 also allows these social media companies to moderate their content and take certain posts down if they see it is necessary. So essentially, hateful posts can be taken down at the companies discretion, but if it isn’t, the company cannot be held liable for hateful content that is kept present on their platform. Seems a little unfair right? This often allows hateful groups to spread their message on these platforms i.e white supremacists recruiting on Youtube.
T Gilepsie’s book chapter is called “The Myth of a Neutral Platform”. This title refers to the inequality of social media and how the First Amendment can be compromised. For example, YouTube has an algorithm that is put in place to demonetize certain videos that have been flagged or disliked. Minorities often suffer from this algorithm such as the LGBTQ communities. The LGBTQ videos on YouTube often do not get the attention or powerful voice that other content creators are given because of hateful audiences disliking their videos. By disliking their videos, content produced by LGBTQ is subject to being demonetized. While the LGBTQ community may still have a voice on YouTubes platform, their voice is not heard at the magnitude of other content creators and this is exactly what T. Gilepsie means by social media not being a “neutral” platform.
The First Amendment was established in 1791 and has since been a pillar of freedom that comes with living in our country. But its complicated.. and with the innovation of technology and various media outlets, the question has to be asked–Should the First Amendment be regulated for our own good? Tim Wu discussed his research on this topic in “Is the First Amendment Obsolete”. Wu explains how the acts of “trolling” and “flooding” are essentially disseminating false information and manipulating people. Wu goes on to say..
“Among emerging threats are the speech-control techniques linked to
online trolling, which seek to humiliate, harass, discourage, and even destroy targeted speakers using personal threats, embarrassment, and ruining of their reputations.” -pg 560
From my own media usage in the United States, I instantly think about President Trump and his usage of “trolling” to tarnish the reputation of his competitors. I immediately think of how President Trump dubbed Marco Rubio “Little Marco” in reference to his small stature. Although maybe perceived as harmless, this nickname stuck and to some viewers made “Little Marco” seem weak and not to be taken seriously.
“Flooding” is another term used by Wu which describes the alternative approach to censorship which serves as “listener targeted speech control”. Flooding is thought to be more effective than censorship because the arrest or attention given to those that are censored may only bring more attention to their words. An example of flooding in my experience has been the mass generation of “bot” related posts. The people that are using these bots on our social media have influence on how they spread their ideologies and can have massive influence on users who do not seek additional information.
Moving forward, I believe that our Government should regulate use of flooding and trolling in our society. I believe that freedom of speech should be preserved but that blatant creation of fake news that can cause hysteria or worse should be illegal and have consequences.
Through technological advances, psychological analysis and various campaign initiatives, the advertisement industry has grown into a 1.2 trillion dollar business according to PQ Media. Companies do not only utilize the art of advertising as a means of monetary gain but also to assist in their efforts of building a reputable and respected brand. Consumers at times, however, hold skeptical when engaging with various ads.
“Play on fear of illness was of course normal, as it had been throughout quack advertising, and there were simple promises of attractiveness and reputation if particular products were used” – Raymond Williams pg330
Playing on fear is an advertising technique that is still in use today. Allstate and Farmers are prime examples of insurance companies that aim to create advertisements that address the skeptical thoughts of the consumers in a humorous manner while subliminally instilling fear. Specifically referring to the insurance business, consumers are skeptical as to if they will ever need insurance. So rather than to create boring advertisements about insurance and what they can provide, these companies decided to go on the offensive. Watch the commercials below to see the humorous and clever spin that acknowledges the skeptics.
As you can see, the use of sensationalism in these ads responds to critics and lets them know that there is plenty of things that can happen in this world that could cause damage. Not only are these ads ridiculous and funny, but they also aim to instill a fear in the viewer that the unexpected and unthinkable could happen. I believe this to be an effective campaign and a creative initiative to address any doubts of their product by their consumer. Also, not for nothing, the first commercial also justifies why I am a dog person 🙂
Raymond Williams “Advertising-The Magic System”
Pie Chart provided by Lindsay Richards, Elon University in “Examining advertising and its impact on consumer skepticism”
As many of us are aware, this is hardly the first pandemic to have swept across the globe. However, during past outbreaks, social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter had not yet been developed. I believe I speak for the majority of social media users when I say that my activity on social media has sky rocketed since the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Vox.com, there have been a total of 19 millions mentions of the corona virus across social media and other related news sites in the past 24 hours alone.
In regards to the corona virus out break, social media has served our population in a positive and negative fashion. Social media has given users a platform to express their anxieties and stresses to an audience that can sympathize and relate to their concerns. On the other hand, social media has served to be a platform for sensationalism and the spread of misinformation which has fed into the growth of this worldwide panic. I have found myself asking, what would this pandemic in which we are living through be like if we did not have social media? Has the circulation of anxiety and panic in some ways helped our population take this matter seriously?
One quote that really stuck out to me by Jen Schradie was “I don’t think that the internet is a threat, existential or otherwise, to democracy because I still see it as a tool, which can be used for good or ill.” I believe amidst this pandemic, the internet and social media has been a tool primarily used for good. The circulation of information regarding charities, promotions for local businesses and various platforms for community engagement has been very extremely effective. In more ways than not, I see media bringing people together. I believe we are seeing the potential for good that is being utilized with social media and I hope to see this trend continue upwards after we defeat this pandemic. Hope whoever is reading this is getting to enjoy time with loved ones and staying safe in your 6 foot bubble!