The Battle for Online Supremacy: The Social Networking Website

– History of MySpace and Facebook

– Their battle for popularity and Facebook’s triumph

– Before MySpace: where did social networking sites begin?

– What was the major differences between Facebook and Myspace that resulted in Facebook’s ultimate win for social networking dominance?

– Will the next social networking site be? Will it be enough to overthrow Facebook?

– China’s ever-growing alternative to Facebook is fast approaching number of users

– Will there ever be a social networking site that is the be-all-and-end-all to social networking sites? Or will they continuously morph and change to compete with the ever-growing demand from online users?

The art of the Meme

The mass audience migration from print media to online media has resulted in a multifaceted shift in the way we communicate. One major form of communication between the younger demographic of internet users is the ‘meme’. A meme is a still image with text applied to it, holding some particular meaning to represent our daily lives, pet hates, or to stereotype particular people. There are more and more memes being made every day, but there are specific go-to images that the internet population has responded to, and circulate on a viral level.

 

The more popular memes have come into popularity through some other form of internet-based posts – usually a YouTube video or blog post made by the subject. Memes can now be created by any internet user to simply express a particular feeling, or make a comment about a part of pop-culture, society, or any other worldly issue. Websites like Meme Generator give people the ability to very quickly create their own memes and circulate them through Facebook, Instagram, or blog posting.

Meme

 

The ‘Overly Attached Girlfriend’ meme was one of the earliest memes to go viral, and is still used today to poke fun at girls who allegedly stalk their boyfriends. Laina Morris is the face behind the meme, and she made her internet fame through a mock video of Justin Bieber’s song ‘Boyfriend’.

 

 As of September 2014 her internet channel has 1,181,000 subscribers and her video has over 126,600,000 views. Since the video went viral internet users have taken a screen shot of her face and created her as the Overly Attached Girlfriend meme.

overlyattachedgirlfriend

“The day after I posted it, it hit a million views”, she said in an interview. “Justin Bieber’s manager sent a tweet out with a link to the video.” The meme created from the viral video has put Laina Morris on the world stage, all from a video made with a cheap webcam.

The Negative Effects

Laina Morris now makes enough money from YouTube advertisements to quit her job and live off that income alone. So what has the meme culture brought to other internet sensations? Blake Boston is the face behind the popular meme ‘Scumbag Steve’, which is widespread on the internet and used to make comments about people that internet users believe to be ‘scumbags’. Blake Boston also came into his meme fame through a YouTube video he and his friends created called Scumbag Steve. An internet user took the video and created a meme with a screenshot, and Scumbag Steve came to life.

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Since the image of Blake went viral on the internet he has become the face of the quintessential scumbag, and is labelled that way. On many occasions Blake has spoken out against the misrepresentations of his personality, saying that he is a father, and that he is working hard to give her a good life.

“This harassment shit, it’s kind of fucked up. At the end of the day it feeds my fuel to my fire,” he said in a home interview.

Where are they now?

It seems that whether their rise to internet fame had positive or negative effects, the starts of internet memes are on the world stage whether they’d like to be or not. Memes are so widespread and connected to our culture now that it seems impossible to reverse what has been created. Laina Morris dedicates her time to making her followers aware of worthy charitable causes while still creating funny videos on the side, and Blake Boston is an aspiring hip hop artist living with his mother. There are hundreds of individuals who have made their way to internet fame whilst attempting to lead their normal lives in quiet. Social media has paved the way for internet fame and viral online content. Do you think that internet celebrities like Laina and Blake are deserving of the hype? Or are they just lucky that they struck the right chord with the online community?

 

 

Broadcast Journalism with the Smart Phone

Poynter.org: 5 ways journalists can use smartphones for reporting

  • Record and file audio clips
  • Shooting videos when action strikes
  • Capture photos discretely
  • Live remote reporting
  • Filing copy on deadline

Treatment of Journalists in Ferguson: http://www.vox.com/2014/8/18/6043247/ferguson-police-media-harassment

Wesley Lowery Tweets in Ferguson: http://www.news.com.au/world/ferguson-journalists-ryan-j-reilly-wesley-lowery-arrested-as-warriorcops-stalk-streets/story-fndir2ev-1227024317404

The Jerusalem Post: @ThisIsGaza Twitter account

Peter Stefanovic Twitter and Instagram accounts in Gaza
http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/Gaza-reporters-tweets-Hamas-using-human-shields-368689

https://twitter.com/peterstefanovic

Kids with Computers: Trust and Credibility in a Hacking Culture

It seems that trust, credibility and authority online are the order of the day, with this week’s media heralding their biggest scoop of news toward the major iCloud celebrity nude photo leak. Of course this particular piece of news begs the question of who is responsible. Do we blame the hackers, or are the internet-users viewing these pictures to take equal blame? Many blog posts and articles have been published regarding the dos’ and don’ts of online etiquette when it comes to a major violation of someone’s right to privacy. Clementine Ford from Daily Life touched on societies view of women in the spotlight, and many Facebook users have circulated the message, warding curious eyes away from the scandal so to avoid being associated. Perez Hilton battled the moral dilemma of posting the raw images, re-posting them with censoring, then taking them down altogether.

 

Although the iCloud leak is the loudest story in the media this week, I’d like to address one other internet privacy story that is happening within a smaller pocket of the internet. While the public figures involved are not A-listers, they are making scandalous news waves within the online gaming culture. Websites like The Daily Dot have aptly titled it The Sexist crusade to destroy game developer Zoe Quinn

It all started when Eron Gonji discovered his girlfriend, Zoe Quinn, had been unfaithful to him and he decided to write a blog post of the ordeal. While only text messages and chat logs are provided as evidence, since the original post went live the internet has lashed out at Zoe Quinn as a response. They have accused Quinn for trading sexual favours for career advancement in the game developer industry. Tumblr provided this comparison:

Capture

 

This raises the issue of privacy and public platforms. Josh Mattingly (pictured above) sexually harassed a female game developer online via his Facebook page, making his information public and accessible, whereas Zoe Quinn kept her private life off the public platforms. At least until Gonji posted it there. On top of this, 4chan.org is riddled with conspiracy theories and anger over the ordeal, and when Phil Fish posted in defense of Quinn’s privacy his own site got hacked and his social security number was leaked. The underlying issue in all of this is that the internet population was very swift and very aggressive in their response towards Quinn for her personal indiscretions. Writers like David Auerbach are using the backlash at Quinn as an opportunity to defend women in the gaming industry, and promote good causes like the Women Making Video Games for Charity project.

Kim Swift, the project lead for Portal has written a great blog post about her own obstacles in game production due to her gender. Since the recent backlash at Zoe Quinn, her family has been harassed, naked photos of her have circulated, and she has received a number of anonymous threats to her life and well-being. Why are we targeting her on such a personal level? What does all the harassment and abuse change? Gamers on 4chan and Escapist have commented:

“Trying to shame Zoe more is derailing us from useful endeavours like brainstorming more ideas for inclusive video games… which are far more productive than bitching about one woman’s sex life.”

“We need to stop focusing on her and focus on the journalists. … We need to not make this about Zoe.”

 

I can relate the Zoe Quinn scandal to the iCloud photo leak with one major point: the scandal is not in who is involved and what they have done, the scandal lies in the viral nature of the abuse and privacy violation. The reason the iCoud scandal is making headlines is not because “oh my god Jennifer Lawrence is naked under her clothes,” but because it tells the public that their privacy online isn’t private at all. The reason the Zoe Quinn scandal is trending online is not because she was unfaithful, but because of the mass abuse and harassment she is now experiencing due to a violation of privacy. Laurie Penny sums it up:

Tweet

 

It seems that by the pure scale of uproar surrounding Zoe Quinn’s alleged promiscuity implies that references, facts and proof are not deemed important when considering viral internet material. While there was no proof given by Gonji of her sexual relations involving career advancement, this has not stopped internet-users from believing the accusations. It seems that by this standard, the onus falls on the online audience to choose what is worthy of their attention. There will always be pockets deep within the labyrinth of the internet that enjoy trolling or posting inflammatory content, however for the most part, the publishers who can verify their sources, provide proof and show research will hopefully continue to reign supreme. David Auerbach summarises it simply: “It’s because of ubiquitous sexist abuse that the “adults” in the room have to stop the bloodshed in pretty blunt ways.” Let’s hope the adult population outweighs the children.

Public Comments and the Online Audience

Last week we spoke about the rise of social media and its subsequent triumph over print media. True to the ever-changing nature of online social media, sub-cultures of online media audiences appear or disappear depending on what is trending online. There are three types of audiences: a writer’s audience, a broadcast audience, and a networked audience. Let’s break them down.

A writer’s audience – this audience is a fictionalized audience, or an audience that is invoked by the writer. The audience forms around the work, and the work caters towards a particular demographic on purpose.

A broadcast audience – this is an audience which can also be referred to as an ‘interpretive community’. The members of this audience are comprised from a fandom following, and can also be a participatory culture.

A networked audience – these are real and potential viewers. These viewers can connect to each other in a network. Platforms like Twitter allow a networked audience to directly contact a public figure and have their questions answered directly from the source.

As per the above video, it’s pretty evident that the internet is a free-for-all commenting playground, and as most people who read YouTube comments will know, it’s generally where faith in humanity goes to die. That might seem a little exaggerative, however if you’ve ever seen comments like this
youtube comment

you’ll know that that’s far from the worst thing you can read on YouTube. It seems hard to believe that there are actually rules and regulations surrounding how internet users should conduct themselves when commenting on public forums, but for the purposes highlighting how far from ideal the internet is, here is an ‘idea model’ of social interaction online:

  • All participants have an opportunity to speak
  • All participants are obliged to carefully consider what they hear
  • All participants speak plainly, and ask for clarification when they need it
  • All participants maintain respect for other participants

The main formats for inviting user participation are through polls, message boards, ‘have your say’ sections, Q&A’s, blogs, etc. Q&A’s are a great way for public figures and celebrities to hear from their fans and followers, although if you follow Robin Thicke on Twitter you’ll know that this form of communication can go very, very wrong.

rbthk

 

Key concerns for editors who run online audience participatory platforms are based around maintaining their brand, legal concerns like defamation, and the desire to ‘own’ content and stories. Unfortunately for some, derogatory or ‘hate speech’ style comments become the property of the brand upon being posted to the site, and editors have to work quickly to monitor what is posted.

While a networking audience can be criticized for all its negative effects, it does have a profoundly positive effect when used to create awareness for charity. Something trending in online social media right now is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, where anyone from celebrities to friends are donating to the ALS foundation, dumping a bucket of ice-water on their head, and nominating their friends or other celebrities to do the same. Since these viral and entertaining videos took off, the ALS foundation has received over $70.2 million.

 

So what do you think? When popular sites open comments to the public are the effects ultimately detrimental, or do the positives of campaigns like the ALS ice-bucket challenge outweigh the negatives?

The History of Social Media, and other Short Stories

 When I started high school it was unimaginable that my friends’ web-presence could be more compelling and entertaining than their physical presence. The year was 2005, and Facebook was barely one year old – not at all a competitor against MySpace for my love and attention. Even when I moved to Sydney and began my degree, it was only between 2011-2014 that I really started to notice the migration to online social networking. By now, Facebook has 1.25 billion users worldwide, shadowing all other social networks. My aspirations of print journalism were swiftly swallowed whole by the ever-looming presence of social media, and I turned my attention to more technological pursuits. Indeed, all we need do is look to Brian Solis’s ever-updating Conversation Prism in order to understand the range of social media at our fingertips. So why is it that we have made the transition so effortlessly into online media? In order to answer my own questions, I need to look at what’s behind us.

Brian Solis and JESS3’s Conversation Prism, 2014

Blogging

In the 1990s the word ‘blog’ was coined from the words ‘web’ and ‘log’, and became a relevant cultural format in 2006. Initially the primary genre of the blog was the online diary, but then it expanded into business news and developer diaries. Particular characteristics of the blog include: dynamic content, individual ‘posts’ (with text and ‘embedded’ media, and their own individual URL) that are traditionally organized in reverse-chronological order. Blogs are ideally easily navigable and well documented, and offer ease of connection between blogs and bloggers (permalinks, blogrolls, trackbacks, and specialized search engines).

With the rise of political blogging in 2001, the popularity of blogging gained momentum. In 2002 political bloggers broke a story about racist comments made by Senator Trent-Lott, leading to his resignation. Blogs soon became a credible source of news to the public. Google purchased Blogger in 2003 under undisclosed terms. In 2004 bloggers were given press badges in order to cover US elections. As of August 2014, the Huffington Post is the most popular blog, with estimates of over 110,000,000 unique monthly visitors.

Blogging is the earliest established platform as a ‘representative’ social media. They are acknowledged to have a major impact on journalism and politics, as well as many other genres and uses.This is both an excellent outlet for communication between people around the world, but also gives way to the negative effects of the ever-growing internet ‘over-share’. 
tsndrunkblog

Social and Mobile
The major online social platforms are:

  • Flickr: 87 million users, 8 billion photos, 3.5 million new photos daily
  • Facebook: 1.25 billion users and climbing
  • QQ: 800 million users
  • Reddit: 4.8 billion monthly page views
  • Tumblr: 200 million blogs
  • Twitter: 500 million users
  • Sina Weibo: 503 million users

Major mobile statistics:

  • 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions globally by the end of 2013
  • 5 billion mobile phones/subscriptions sold in 2012
  • 60% + all of new mobile phones are smart phones
  • Over 1.2 million apps in the iPhone app store by mid-2014
  • Added at a rate of 25,000 per month

In 2006 Time Magazine named their person of the year as ‘You’, celebrating the social media boom, also referred to as the Web 2.0 ‘revolution’. Over time, Web 2.0 played a major role in political movements and protester agendas. In 2011 Time Magazine named the ‘masked protester’ as their person of the year, in blatant reference to the democratic uprisings across the ‘Arab World’. Social media played a particularly important role in the Egyptian revolution of 2011.

The more intertwined social media becomes with our world news, the more connected the world will become with the medium. Between 2011 and 2014 alone, the number of Facebook users has risen from 700 million to 1.25 billion, and this number is still climbing. We are in the motions of transitioning to an online world, and whether it is spent gaming or surfing the net, the average ‘screen time’ for a child is up to 35 hours a week. It seems that as early as the 90s, more and more people have become aware of the uniqueness of online media, and it is only a matter of time before blogging and micro-blogging replace print media completely.

So what are your concerns? Do you think that along with the social media boom will come an unwelcome and unstoppable flood of ill-informed opinions, or are we all entitled to a public platform? Can any old blogger with a screen and an internet connection have their say, or will we still respect the opinion of an elite few?