For this week’s process post, I will be talking about whether social media expands or narrows our view.
To answer that question, I think that social media does a bit of both expanding and narrowing our views.
Social media expands our view because it allows us to see stuff that happens across the world through something that we can interact with unlike the news. This is invaluable, especially in places that typically do not allow the media to show 100% of the truth when reporting. It ensures that after fact-checking, we get the real news that actually allows us to make informed decisions about a situation, then participate in it.
On the flip side, it is also narrowing because it concentrates most of the information onto a few platforms, which can easily be manipulated to only show what they believe is right. As you may already know, the Facebook/Meta family of companies like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp control a heavy majority of the world’s social media. Despite this, they have been decent at only using minimal amounts of censorship when it comes to moderation.
An extreme example of this would be Twitter after the Elon Musk takeover, where posts that do not align with just his beliefs are either hidden or deleted off his platform.
This concentration, combined with bad actors that operate online which “collaborate on media production knowledge dissemination, and share viewpoints that would be unacceptable” create a huge problem for a digital society (Marwick, Lewis, 2017, p.24).
When everyone is concentrated on one platform, it makes it really easy for the bad actors to attack and spread misinformation. It is just like a crocodile attacking a pond of fish that is already stuck in the net.
Therefore, I think that this question will eventually sway one way after some extensive research, but as social media hasn’t existed for too long, we do not know which of the two effects it has on participants of the digital society.
Marwick, Alice and Lewis, Rebecca. 2017. “Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online“. Datasociety.net.