Social Media: Facebook and Twitter

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Introduction

Advanced information and communication technologies enthrall the modern world that affects the ways of preservation and dissemination of knowledge. More and more forms of communications are reshaped from physical into digital mode. Social media that include Facebook (a social network) and Twitter (a micro blogging service) opened new ways to communicate. In terms of changing the ways in which knowledge is transmitted, the social media implication is in the significant extension of knowledge symbolic representation to constructing meaning through messages construction, interpretation, and dissemination (Kalman, & Correa 13). Associating the social media technologies with knowledge systems “enriches the symbolic and technological landscape” (Kalman, & Correa 26).

Definition of the Technology

Definition

According to Mayfield, social media are “a group of new kinds of online media that share most or all of several characteristics: participation, openness, community, conversations, and connectedness” (qtd. in Obregon 69). Common social media include social networks (Facebook), blogs, micro blogging (Twitter), content communities (YouTube), podcasts, and forums (Obregon 70). As a technology tool, social media provides communicators with dynamic opportunities of direct real-time interactivity.

One of the most commonly used online social networks is Facebook that is “a clustering of networks based on universities and colleges, high schools, work places and companies and geographic areas” (Ginger n.p.).

An example of a micro-content social network is a free micro blogging platform Twitter that allows sending and receiving short public messages – tweets. Tweets typically include links to web pages, blogs, images, videos, and other online materials (Mollett et al. 1; Krishnamurthy et al. n.p.).

Functions

Social media provides numerous functions such as setting up profiles, communicating with friends, loading personal data, and many other. Like other social networks, Facebook users can create personalized profile pages that present user’s personal information and a list of friends. The main functions are sending messages to one another, joining topical social groups, and sharing weblog posts, images, and brief public messages. A main social activity on the Facebook is navigation and browsing through friends’ profiles (Golder et al. 13).

Twitter is a smaller network that provides a new mean of communication – Short Message Service, which is “a store and forward best effort delivery system for text messages” (Krishnamurthy et al. n.p.).

In addition to setting profiles, communicating and organizing charitable, social, political and interest groups. In addition, social networking provides perfect commercial opportunities for businesses (“Social Networking” 49).

Technology Replacement

Social media, which are decentralized, interactive, and boundary-crossing internet platforms, are another mean of communicating that was developed on the basis of modern information technologies (Attingsberg 33). They extend communications through expanding access to the Internet. Prior to social media emerging, people have used out-of-date communication technologies, such as newspapers, local radio, or telephones (Attingsberg 33). The eventual replacement of these technologies with networking tools, which are more readily available to people around the world, “fortify some of the revolutionary features of the Internet” (Attingsberg 20).

Background of the Technology Application

The Internet has realized the opportunities for users to communicate through creating personal web pages, chat rooms, forums, message boards, blogs, and web communities (“Social Networking” 10). Its development has promoted emerging online social networks (Krishnamurthy et al. n. p.). For the first time, the functions that modern social networks provide were implemented in the sites in the late 1990s. Friendster launched in 2002 was the first site that made a serious impact in the information and technology world (“Social Networking” 10). However, online social networking evolved into a reliable and ubiquitous technology only when an access to the high-speed Internet was provided and connected smart phones were introduced.

Facebook, online social network website, was originally designated for college students.

Eventually, it has spread its popularity to high school students and young adults of the post-college world. At present, Facebook is considered the most visited a website that has more than 18 million members (Ginger n.p.). It still keeps the fastest growth rate on the Internet.

Smaller networks were presented as simple helper applications for the large online social networks. Recently, their popularity has grown due to their distinctive feature – providing  a new mean of communication such as Short Message Service in Twitter, which  emerged in 2006 (Krishnamurthy et al. n.p.).

Discussion

Transmitting Communication

Similar to other social networks, Facebook and Twitter are decentralized, interactive, boundary-crossing media that allow communicators to express themselves freely on a public or one-to-one basis through fast sharing of information that they consider important to a larger audience than ever before (Uimonen 20; “Social Networking” 1). Types of information range from written messages to live TV (Attingsberg 33).

Likewise, Facebook extends the interactions of the face-to-face world, and Twitter provides multiple channels – cell phones, Facebook, via email, an RSS feed, and Instant Messages – to deliver information to interested users (Ginger n.p.; Krishnamurthy et al. n.p.). Moreover, Twitter changed the way of transmitting breaking news due to its ability “to operate at a speed and with a content that cannot be provided by a single reporter on the ground can provide” (Attingsberg 37).

As the theoretical implication, social media in some ways extends the symbolic representation of communications such as reading and writing, which are associated with this technology, and constructs meaning (Kalman, & Correa 26). Some data in a form of texts and references is presented in both digital and print versions. More to the point, they provide “dynamic representations, connectivity, synchronic communication, and multiple options to manipulate what appears on the screen (move in, reproduce, select and delete, transform in size, shape, and color) at high speed with relative ease” (Kalman, & Correa 13).

Social media including Facebook and Twitter construct meaning through the construction, interpretation, and dissemination of messages. Constructing meaning enables people to provide a real time response based on recognizing and understanding events, identifying resources and relationship required for the resolution.

Industries Using Social Media Technology

Social media are widely used in civil, commercial, and scientific fields. Their capabilities to organize groups, collect, and disseminate data have made them vital for education, research activities, and journalism (Mollett et al. n.p.). Besides, new forms of interaction and communication have promoted developing tools to produce services and content that can generate income and employment. This makes social media irreplaceable in digital marketing (Obregon 65). In addition, the domains of their application are constantly expanded. For example, Twitter was used recently as a helper application during a large- scale fire emergency and riots (Krishnamurthy et al. n.p.).

Training People

Social media’s users are able to adapt the application to their own needs easily due to clear, “concise and consistent but malleable interface” (Ginger n.p.). Mostly, there is no strong need in long and expensive training for users in working with some applications. Moreover, social media provide understandable instructions on their sites. However, demands for deep understanding of social media potentials and obtaining maximum results stimulated the establishment of graduate courses, the Internet coursers, and digital marketing webinars, concerning the social networks analysis.

To the extent that social media changes the nature of work, it defines the qualities and qualifications for their users that, in general, include imaginative thinking and creativity in applying technology. In addition, further technology development increases the need in social media researchers, analysts, and developers.

Challenges

The main challenge is the uneven distribution of digital media from a global perspective that refers to a low access to social networking sites in poor countries (Uimonen 23). The social and digital exclusion widens the gap between the poor and rich that exacerbates social and economic inequality.

Another challenge is the necessity to increase digital safety of vulnerable groups that include children, adolescents, and youth from risks brought by social media (Obregon 75).

The next issue is defined by the impact YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have on journalism and dissemination of news that was observed during a sequence of recent Arab revolutions (Attingsberg 32). Social media has significantly expanded the opportunities to manipulate public awareness that highlights the issue of providing strong credibility of information sources and increasing social responsibility of communicators.

The Future

The further development of information and communication technologies will bring about emerging of new social media that will introduce new forms of interaction and communication, which will demonstrate the tendency toward convergence and platform sharing (Obregon 70). Social media will continue to evolve and provide individuals and communities with greater opportunities for participation (Obregon 70).

Conclusion

To conclude, the social media technology that was introduced as a communication tool evolves to components of the global information infrastructure that enhances extending a knowledge symbolic representation to constructing meaning (Kalman, & Correa n.p.). Social media including Facebook and Twitter construct meaning through the construction, interpretation, and dissemination of messages. Constructing meaning enables people to provide a real time response based on recognizing and understanding events, identifying resources and relationships required for the resolution.

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