Once upon a time when communication was bilateral and direct, users wouldn’t have to concern themselves with the owners of the technologies they used.
However, in the creation of mass media productions, a giant role reversal was instigated as owners became able to use their medium/technology as a platform for themselves to communicate with users!; Passively. What succeeded this transition was media’s increasing influence over the values of its consumers, the way its information was portrayed becoming so integral to the functioning of society, that it was described as “The Nervous System of Democracy.”
With an ability to: normalise certain ideologies within our culture; structure the way we view information; and extrapolate personal details to use as guidance for niche advertising, this realisation crafted a plethora of media anxiety; And rightly so.
The truth is that now it does matter who owns a media platform, as whether they desire to or not, a producer’s sociopolitical values are selectively reinforced in their thinking that they hold the most importance to society. Such is why there is always a danger of bias in the media, especially detrimental as “(people) trust (in) the media…as a source of impressions about the world outside direct experience.” Users should be aware of the media’s potential to shape an individual’s own behaviour and self concept so that they can synthesis the information they receive.
Personally, I am an avid user of social media, particularly – Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Each social media platform is respectively controlled by (in order): Mark Zukerburg (Facebook and Instagram), Even Speigal and Jack Dorsey.
To me the effects a social-media owner has on its users is more expedient than it is disadvantageous because inventors are commonly past ‘active’ consumers that have utilised the internet to turn an idea, designed by the public for the public, viral.
For example, Mark Zukerburg’s Facebook profile articulates that his medium is“trying to make the world a more open place” and that “All children are artists. The problem is … remain(ing) an artist once you grow up.” To me Zukerburg’s aim of openness has succeeded; Facebook an online environment where the opinions of regular people can be unrestrainedly voiced.
I am aware of Facebook’s targeted advertising, the potential for over-sharing and privacy breach, its customising of the way I receive information in my newsfeed and more. However, as a person aware of the double-edged sword that is the World-Wide-Web, I personally don’t find Facebook’s advertising schemes upsetting, or fear the potential dangers of privacy breach. This is because as Facebook is a public platform I am conscious that businesses and corporations also have the right to its use, and that it is up to the curator of a Facebook profile to decide what they wish to make public knowledge.
Hence, although people focus on the many negative aspects of media owners and their editorial influence, I think the effects is a matter of agenda and may in fact, like Facebook and Mark Zukerburg, hold a positive influence on society.
You might like to watch this documentary on how Facebook came to be and judge for yourself his intentions and their effect on your use of Facebook;
Header Image: Mohandas, Mithun. “How We Think Facebook Is Going To End Up Killing The Internet | Digit.In”. Digit. N.p., 2016. Web. 25 Mar. 2016.
Turnball, S., 2016, “Week 4: Media Industries”Lecture Presentation, BCM 110, University of Wollongong, 23 March 2016