Social media is a computer-based technology that facilitates the sharing of ideas, thoughts, and information through the building of virtual networks and communities. By design, social media is Internet-based and gives users quick electronic communication of content. Content includes personal information, documents, videos, and photos. Users engage with social media via a computer, tablet, or smartphone via web-based software or applications.
“Social media, even the ‘new’ social media platforms, can function like the old social media platforms from the analog era. Anyone anywhere in the world can have a platform within a few clicks or even seconds.” (Sabia, 2018) Social media was born following the WW II defeat of fascism in World War II (1942– 1945). The US Office of Strategic Services (OSS) created the United States Information Service (USIS) with the purpose of collecting, maintaining, and disseminating government information. Official accounts of the USIS included a Directory section that facilitated directory assistance for US citizens. Documents retrieved through the USIS included schedules of key events, advisory papers, maps, schedules of radio broadcasts and briefings, as well as official reports and memoranda of conversations of high government officials. Following the liberation of Europe, public and private institutions needed to react rapidly to changing public needs and evolving societal circumstances at home and around the world. A Radio Reference catalog was established with consolidated news and reference material from instances around the world. This centralized directory of broadcast information allowed successive generations of government communications to inform the citizenry about state-run and non-state-run service areas. Initially, radio broadcasts were transmitted exclusively by commercial stations across the country, save for state-run affiliates. During the 1950s and early 1960s, peoples’ control over the local news surfaced in grassroots movements (such as Community Radio and AM Radio) that ended commercial station control of public radio content. In 1964, the FCC decided to consolidate all local community-based television stations into six affiliates, all of which began to get FCC authorization to transmit content separately beginning in 1971. When all of the six public television stations were combined onto three channels in 1980, social media took over the format once again. Before social media launched, the regulating bodies of technology were not explicitly informed of the potential of social media for communication. They did, however, foresee the potential of social networking being used for political purposes. Tyler Cowen and Paul Pierson defined two futures for communication as sweeping technological and political changes unfold: “Whitewash the positive works (like Myspace) and you’re left with a highway for promoting chaos and dullardery (Facebook). Firestorm the reasonable and presentable works, and you have a modern phenomenon” (Cowen and Pierson, 2008). The US government and regulatory engineers’ mind set for the development of social media is separated from the general publics depending on gender, race, *******uality, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation. Usually, overlaps exist among these demographic groups to draw influence from, as they connect more closely with tech-user and social network norms, values, and lifestyle preferences.
The purpose of this report is to identify and characterize the core features of social media content and the existing communities on social media. Given growing concern for privacy, understanding how social media users collect and use information, gather connections, and communicate is in the public interest. This report begins by delving into the form and function of social media: How it works and what individuals can do on social media. Next, the purpose of social media is explained in relation to the research questions. The social evolution of social media is examined with an emphasis on the advent and growth of social media applications. Next, the components of the social media ecosystem, including social networks, content platforms, applications, platforms, and content are identified to understand how content and communities have evolved. The role of social media in the evolution of communities is then examined through interviews with experts on social networks and communities. Finally, the role of social media in American society is identified through a review of social media media customs and regulations and recommendations on how to adapt to the social media era. Thank you very much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would love to learn more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? When I was initially invited to be one of the early CTAs for LinkedIn I wasn’t quite sure how to feel. I now realize how fortunate I was to receive that initial invitation. My initial reaction was, “This must be part of some crazy marketing scheme because I have a real full-time job and I’ve got a family to take care of. I’ll never get to do it.” I wasn’t deterred by the above statement. Coming from an aerospace engineering background, I understood that not every job candidate had the same job title or job duties. I researched LinkedIn and found that almost all of the founders, company founders, and senior executives were listed as CTO, CMO, CTO, CMO, etc. And it wasn’t particularly unique to this industry. As I participated in the conversation, I realized that I was one of the few people with those titles working at LinkedIn in those early days. That is when I knew that no one was taking me for granted and I realized that I could somehow be the CTO of LinkedIn.
The inability to share has been a significant drawback to the multimedia sharing function. The high costs to acquire, store, and perform virtually on a high-speed Internet (or downloads), has resulted in its low penetration rates. However, few countries have mastered the transfer of information. Media blackout is one of the challenges that social media faces. It has led to fragmentation of social networks. This has created fragmentation and need for converging of social media protocol, technology standards, and operational practices to create a winner-take-all environment. So far, it has not been successful. The digital divide is a critical social issue, that affects public policies for economic, cultural, and other Darwinian reasons. Identities of users who share, like, comment, and like to spread information are called nodes. The sharing of ideas takes place through “fans” (supporters) of a node. Nodes that are “connected” online by means of popular nodes share links, like, comments, and tweets to create social interactions, and in this way, the social media phenomenon began. The first social network, Myspace, emerged in 1999 and led to increased social interaction around the world. Myspace achieved viral success through a social network where users could create and post content about their interest. In the second decade of the 2000s, Facebook appeared in the market and did not have substantially differentiating characteristics compared to Myspace. Facebook hit a peak in 2008 to about 200 million users worldwide and among them were more than 700 million Facebook users. Facebook founders, Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin, acquired the Myspace in January 2012. Facebook’s fast growth brought the challenges of security, privacy, monetization, and the commercialization of social networking as a business model. Effectively, the founders realized that “business” is just the beginning of the social media revolution. Today, Facebook and Myspace are two of the leading social media platforms in the world. It is estimated that, by the end of 2020, Facebook has 309 million users around the world. Myspace was developed to be a social media platform that fostered better organization of online communities and the cultivation of strong personal connections. This was achieved by its use of function word-blocks that were defined and organized in the building blocks of words to create a consistent visual element and storeable format. This eliminated physical copy and therefore, digital copying became a non-issue. Users created a coherent picture of their online identities through flexible templates. The founders’ vision was to develop an interface that allows users to express themselves freely and contribute to the community in a way that facilitates communication.