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Media Analysis

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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.