Tuesday, October 8, 2013

...And Now a Word From Our Sponsor

Kayla Welch

Social media is becoming a steadily increasing and upward trend in today's society. Interacting with friends and family has become as simple as a 'follow back' on Twitter or tagging someone in a picture. But is seeing really believing?

Many people including myself, have probably never heard of the term astroturfing before. To put it simply, astroturfing is a way for certain entities to publicize their messages through another outsider or participant. So why is this important? These messages are being displayed through people posing as something they are not.

"Astroturfers use software to mask their identity."

Therefore something you may be reading that is being advertised or publicized may not even be fully supported by others, yet astroturfing will display the idea that someone supports it. Some astroturfers can even be one individual, however, displaying the message through various personas to make it seem as though there is widespread support for the agenda. You could be jumping on the bandwagon to something that is not even capable of widespread support and is completely falsified. 

Another troublesome occurrence through social media is sponsored tweets. Many celebrities are being financially endorsed simply by tweeting about a product that will sponsor them. But isn't Twitter supposed to be meant for your own individualistic thoughts? Isn't your Twitter account supposed to be reflection and a profile of yourself?

In my own view, I believe people 'follow' you to read your thoughts and receive an idea of what someone else may be thinking. I feel as though with celebrities tweeting about certain products simply to receive compensation for that tweet, it becomes disinteresting for the ones that follow them. Personally, I would 'unfollow' one who would be filling my Twitter feed with nothing but advertisements. Isn't it bothersome enough that Facebook has posted advertisements all over the right side of your computer screen to reflect on certain things you may have 'liked'? And now Twitter users are being exposed to the same thing. Social media should be about connecting individuals, not what flight to take (because a celebrity is doing the same thing) or what alcoholic beverage everyone should be drinking. 

Image provided by: Business Insider

Image provided by: Mainstreethost Blog

And the worst part about it all? Anyone can do it. Celebrity or not, any individual can sign up to become a sponsored tweeter. And if that is not enough for an individual, they don't even have to be themselves. There are numerous parody accounts on Twitter posing as celebrities that almost anyone can make. The only thing to distinguish the real from the fake is a small blue checkmark by the Twitter user's profile picture. Acquaintances I graduated with even pose as Kid Cudi and tweet things to "sound as he would" through a stereotypical view. They get paid for each favorite and retweet on the account.  So for the people out there that idolize celebrities and want to do everything they do, do not always believe what you see. Chances are, you could be following and idolizing a 65-year-old man posing as Wiz Khalifa. 

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