The Politics of Social Media

During my DH6004 class this week, we watched a film called The Internet’s Own Boy, a documentary about one of the founders of Reddit, Aaron Swartz, who sadly died in 2013 aged just 26. Aside from helping to create Reddit, Swartz became a spokesperson for internet users during campaigns to bring in censorship laws like SOPA which ‘is an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act. It’s proposed bill that aims to crack down on copyright infringement by restricting access to sites that host or facilitate the trading of pirated content’ (SOPA Explained: What It Is and Why It Matters – Jan. 17, 2012).   He was also one of the founders of demandprogress.org which is a project that aims to ‘seek to protect the democratic character of the internet — and wield it to make government accountable and contest concentrated corporate power’ (About Demand Progress – Demand Progress). The conversation about government interference of the internet has been a long one. In the second year of my degree , I wrote about how Twitter was being used as a campaign tool in modern political campaigns.

In more recent years, the Cambridge Analytica scandal had rocked the social media world, as well as the real world.  It was revealed by one whistle-blower that over 50 million user’s data had been mined in order to compile information on potential voters during the American Presidential Election and the Brexit referendum (Cadwalladr and Graham-Harrison). It just goes to show how social media has evolved over the years and how things need to change in order to get back to how sites like Facebook were previously (Mozur et al.).

References

Aaron Swartz. http://www.aaronsw.com/. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.

About Demand Progress – Demand Progress. https://demandprogress.org/about/. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.

admin. ‘Critical Review of Twitter as a Communication Tool.’ Kayleigh Falvey, 26 Oct. 2017, http://kayleighfalvey.com/digital-humanities/write-a-critical-review-of-twitter-as-a-platform-you-may-consider-how-twitter-works-as-a-research-tool-andor-as-a-pedagogical-tool-andor-as-a-communication-tool/.

Cadwalladr, Carole, and Emma Graham-Harrison. ‘Revealed: 50 Million Facebook Profiles Harvested for Cambridge Analytica in Major Data Breach’. The Guardian, 17 Mar. 2018. www.theguardian.com, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/mar/17/cambridge-analytica-facebook-influence-us-election.

Mozur, Paul, et al. ‘Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web’. The New York Times, 17 Sept. 2017. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/17/technology/facebook-government-regulations.html.

SOPA Explained: What It Is and Why It Matters – Jan. 17, 2012. https://money.cnn.com/2012/01/17/technology/sopa_explained/index.htm#targetText=SOPA%20is%20an%20acronym%20for,the%20trading%20of%20pirated%20content. Accessed 3 Oct. 2019.

Do We Need Clickbait?

Clickbait has been a source of confusion in the online community for the longest time. For those confused as to what clickbait is, the definition from Urban Dictionary is as follows:

An eyecatching link on a website which encourages people to read on. It is often paid for by the advertiser (‘Paid’ click bait) or generates income based on the number of clicks.

However, in recent months, click bait has become a part of the Vlogging phenomenon where certain YouTubers have been criticised for using clickbait for their videos. But clickbait is not a new thing, it has merely been renamed in order to suit the online world. Tabloid newpaper’s have been writing eye catching headlines for years in order to coax readers to buy their newspaper. The difference now is that we are watching YouTube for free, so the idea that Vloggers need to make money seems foreign to us as we are not providing them an income in the traditional way.

So maybe perhaps we do need clickbait after all??

Nerve and Blue Whale : A Look at Online Truth or Dare Games

A while ago I watched a film called Nerve, which is a teen drama where is based around a online truth or dare which stars Emma Roberts and Dave Franco. In the film, the stakes are very high and the prizes for completing a dare is various amounts of money. While watching it, my friend and I kept saying how believable it was that people could get wrapped up in a fad and would test it to the limit. We saw it last summer with PokemonGo, where there was a large amount of accidents due to people playing the game and the only reward was to catch imaginary creatures. Don’t get me wrong, I played the game just like half the country but thankfully, I didn’t injure myself playing it.

Another fad that came to mind when I was watching Nerve was the NekNominations which were dares done online in order to see what kind of mix of alcohol people could drink in a certain amount of time. The videos were uploaded online for others to see. To me, this bears a striking similarity to the plot of Nerve due to the huge risk attached to the dares themselves. what made my uneasy was how close we have gotten to this kind of fad, and maybe this is a wake-up call for people so that a real-life Nerve doesn’t happen.

In recent days another ‘game’ as come to the forefront, called Blue Whale, in which teenagers are challenged to complete 50 tasks ranging in severity going so far as to self harm as part of the game. What makes me uneasy is how close we have gotten to the plot of this film, and that terrifies me and the worry is; how much further can these games go in the future?

What’s Going on with Youtube

eSome of your may have noticed the anger and frustration with Content Creators in the last few weeks due to the latest algorithm change for YouTube, its frustrating for not only for the creators but for viewers and subscribers who have been unsubscribed from some Vloggers that they follow. I, myself, have been affected and have been unsubscribed from some of my favourite YouTubers without my knowledge or constant.

And if people like me are getting annoyed, imagine what the people who make a living out of YouTube are feeling right now! Some have addressed the issue, Jacksepticeye, for example, has said, “This is people’s careers…..To completely switch how you do things and not tell anybody is a shitty thing to do.” And he’s right, especially for the smaller channels who are trying so hard to get noticed but are being pushed aside by videos in the trending menu.

One of the biggest YouTubers PewDiePie is so frustrated with the changes that he has vowed to delete his channel as soon as it hits 50 Million Subscribers. Which if you didn’t know is a feat not been done on YouTube before. Ironically his Vlog announcing his decision is no. 44 of the Trending list at the time of writing this! But this just goes to show the seriousness of this situation and  if YouTube doesn’t address these changes then it could spell the end of the powerhouse that is YouTube.

 

At the end of PewDiePie’s video he did say that he was meeting with people from YouTube to try and figure out what has gone wrong so if there is any update from that going forward then this article will be updated accordingly but as of right now, December 3rd, there is no update on the situation. The question is if YouTube doesn’t make the changes that its audience and creators desperately want, where will people go to publish their videos?? YouTube has been at the forefront of this area for so long, is there any site that could take over from YouTube? Only time will tell how this will unfold.

The Arrival of Facebook Games

For the past two days, I have been introduced to the magical world of Facebook Games. Now gaming on Facebook is not a new concept, we have had games on Facebook for years, but in the last few days FB has upped its game (pardon the pun!) with the use of Facebook Messenger in order to challenge users and their friends to retro arcade games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man while having newer games like Endless Lake and Words with Friends: Frenzy. What I love about this is that there are no in-app purchases right now!! *CUE Applause* My Bank Balance thanks you Facebook.

The games load super quickly, are super addictive and are perfect for the casual gamers, like me, who don’t really want to spend a whole lot of money on consoles.

Because the games are available through the Facebook Messenger App, both IOS and Andriod users are able to get involved which is fantastic. And because it is the Messenger App, you don’t need to go away and try and download any extra apps in order to play, just head into the app and away you go adding to the already ‘stickiness’ of the Facebook Apps.

Screenshot of Instant Games on Messenger
Screenshot of Instant Games on Messenger

At the moment Instant Gaming is only available in the following countries; Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain, Canada, United States, Japan, Netherlands, Australia, Austria, Latvia, Germany, Ireland, Belgium, New Zealand, France, Singapore, Finland, Hong Kong, Russian Federation, Estonia, Taiwan, Slovenia, Puerto Rico, Cyprus, Israel, Lithuania, Spain, and Italy. Seeing how popular it has become in the last few days I’m sure the update will come for all Facebook users around the world in due course. This innovation on Facebook’s part is very exciting and integrates one of the most popular activities with one of the world’s most popular messenger apps.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to beat my high score in Endless Lake!!

Screenshot from Endless Lake
Screenshot from Endless Lake

Relevant Source:

Facebook Messenger launches Instant Games

http://www.theverge.com/2016/11/29/13769768/facebook-instant-games-pac-man-galaga-words-with-friends

https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Facebook-Plays-Another-Round-with-Games/1014795