Monday, November 14, 2016

The Catch 22 of the 21st Century: Social Media

Andrea Wurm

The buzzword of 2016 seems to be social media. Whether it is because of the influence of the historical 2016 Presidential Election to the endless memes from the likes of Harambe, we can't seem to avoid the conversation. Social Media has created various platforms that allow the world-wide net community to feel smaller yet infinite. It has given the general public the opportunity to reach communities of their interest, but it has also given people a voice. As a democratic and "free" country, having a voice is something that many citizens take pride in, however it is now holding us accountable, both personally and professionally.

"Twitter: Often first, not always right", summarizes the power that a social media platform often has over traditional news outlets. It has built a mob mentality and alludes to the assumption that "oh, I saw it on Twitter, it must be right!". However, this is where we are starting to face a problem. While it is important that our users have a voice on these platforms, we must address that social media essentially allows all users to "be a journalist" without the consideration of ethical issues and appropriate writing styles.

Users of social media have a tendency to dramatize news or simply believe all content they read, which sets them apart from true journalists. According to The American Press Institute, 88 % of millennials receive their news from social media platforms such as Facebook. While we have to appreciate their effort to keep up with the current news, it is just as useless if the news is inaccurate or biased. We are seeing a blurred line of when the reader becomes the news distributer.

While Twitter may be fair game for journalists, users must remember that the platforms are public and they have a responsibility to minimize harm with their posts. We also must become accountable for dividing the world of credible news sources and entertainment platforms. If we fail to do so as users, we may begin to forget the difference; resulting in a lack of trust for the news we receive.

I am finding from personal experiences as an avid user of social media, we have a responsibility as users of the free platforms, to be held accountable for the information we share. Perhaps it is opening the conversation that needs to happen; should users of the free platforms be restricted to certain content?

Accountability is the key word when it comes to a successful news platform. "What Social Media Means to Us" gives us a look at how Coca-Cola incorporates accountability into their company's brand. The reason they remain so successful as a company who implements the same product while innovating their brand, is because they hold themselves accountable.

"Have fun and be smart" is the motto which Coca-Cola according to "What Social Media Means to Us". Perhaps this is something that individual personal users of social media platforms can implement into their brand.

Perhaps social media is introducing a conversation we haven't had to have before. While companies must maintain an ethical and clean brand in order to be successful, maybe its consumers should start doing the same. It is a platform that is holding us as personal users accountable for what we say and share behind closed doors. It is teaching us that if we play a significant role in society, we have a responsibility to be accountable for who we are on public platforms.

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