Week 9 – Power

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This topic contains 14 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Diarmuid Kiernan 2 years, 7 months ago.

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    Is social media community (whether personal or professional) all about new forms of control?



    What do you mean by control?

    Social control or the user controlling the message they want to convey to the world?



    Control is complex …


    Barry Quirke

    I would say that control is a significant aspect of social media. From a SM platform provider’s point of view, the more interactive a user is, the better for them, they know more about you (you’re paying them for use of their product with more data about you) and it’s another opportunity for them to pitch advertising, so there’s an immediate income stream in advertising terms, and there’s a future income stream in terms of increased personal data and the opportunities it may present some time down the track.

    Not every SM user understands this, and it is so easy to yield to the compulsion to Like things or Follow someone/some topic just for the sake of it. It can be very addictive and time consuming, and in this sense, this is SM as a significant driver of human behaviour, and this has to be seen as a form of control. It’s important that users can and do make choices about their levels of SM use and adjust their behaviour accordingly, in other words, to take back some control over their on-line presence in a self-empowering way. For example, I’m thinking of the emergence of device-free holidays which affords people a break from their on-line presence/compulsions and also some of my friends who have deactivated their Facebook accounts in order to not have to feel the need for constant posts and updates.


    Kevin Mc

    Social Media has a control over every users life whether they want to admit it or not. Simple, everyday things that were part of life less than 10 years ago are now done through social media instead. Buying a newspaper is no longer needed to get the news as the majority of papers are online with Facebook and Twitter accounts. Listening to music can be done through YouTube instead of buying cd’s, speaking to friends can be done via Viber, texting can be done through Facebook or WhatsApp. You can even find a job via LinkedIn now.

    Without even realizing we’re letting Social Media take control of our lives



    I don’t believe that the Social media community is about control. I believe it is about opportunity. We have evolved in how we communicate and as a result technology has advanced (with us and by us) to aid us in how we can communicate.
    I remember (not too long ago) that you would never make a call to the United States during the day because it would cost you a fortune. Now we have families and friends that are spread all across the world that are in numerous time zones and they can all remain in constant contact because of technology and the social media communities that has been created.
    Yes there are companies and individuals that have taken advantage of social media communities and some have even made small fortunes from it – and fair play. But in the same breath we get to use these technologies that grant us the access and opportunities for a very small fee (phone contract).
    I have to say that I am happier that we have access to this technology, and I look forward to see how social media and the communities aregoing to evolve.



    Is social media community (whether personal or professional) all about new forms of control?

    Great question! Great in its hidden undertone!

    As many of my colleagues have pointed out already, the vast amounts of social communication and real time information that is on offer at present allows for a far easier way of life than that of maybe 20 years previous.

    As class colleagues have already outlined, the prevalence of Social Media and its widespread acceptance by the community as ‘the norm’ and the main form of communication today, has allowed for massive amounts of information, be it personal or professional, to be accumulated and retained on a monumental scale.

    But by whom and why?

    Of course, this can be seen as good and bad.

    Good in that, information can be key to bringing down terrorist organisations before they wreak havoc.

    Bad in that, information is also key to possibly stopping an anti-establishment movement before it gathers enough momentum to derail the unjust, oppressive government of the day.

    With regard to the control element of the Social Media community alluded to in the question, I think it was Damien who mentioned it in a previous weeks posting, What is the end game with these vast quantities of personal and professional information?

    When will they be sold on to the highest bidder?

    Where will that bidder come from?



    Who knows?

    I do think we as a generation have benefited from the functionality of the Social Media platform, its facilitative nature and its ability to increase awareness and provide real time information, but with the increased invasion to the end users ‘space’, be that on a personal or professional platform, it does serve to ask the question and to wonder, how much of this perceived benefit is to act as a facilitator and disguise to the cessation of our own right to control?

    When you provide them with everything, what have you got left?


    Bernard McGinley

    how many community building endeavours have backfired on companies? despite their best intentions it’s hard to see them as being in control. Yes they have the power to turn off or moderate comments, and to ban users or IP’s, but this adds a lot of administrative overhead to sites. Gawker had major problems with it’s comments last year, and ended up disabling comments across the entire group of sites while they implemented a pending approval system as a result of abuse. It’s not an unusual story at all. user created communities may be much more desirable to companies. It’s not unusual to see developers posting to forums outside of their direct control, because that’s where their fans are. look at the success of reddit AMA’s in this area. If they felt they had control wouldn’t they use this to drive fans to their official forums?



    Social Media, yeah, for sure, for it can be a massive distraction. Noam Chomsky reckons this:
    “The key element of social control is the strategy of distraction that is to divert public attention from important issues and changes decided by political and economic elites, through the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information.”
    Ergo. Social Media = Biggest means of social control in the world today, Right?
    Nah, I don’t think so. there has to be some deliberate intent. I don’t think social media was put here by our dark overlords to distract us; we have a party on FB & Twitter whilst they sell off all our assets or gamble our pensions? No I don’t think so.
    That said, Social Media could easily be subverted to do harm and intentionally control. But there is nothing really new in that. This article is worth a read. http://theinternationalcoalition.blogspot.ie/2011/07/noam-chomsky-top-10-media-manipulation_08.html

    Thing that strikes me the most about social media is how easy it has become to socially engineer a person/group of people.

    Anyway, this is all getting too high brow for me, I’m away to see what grumpy cat is doing on FB or check out that new psi video on you tube!



    Social media is extremely powerful. Is it a form of control? I beleive it is. Take social media from a positive perspective. People get caught up with the crowd. You will find something popping up in the media and it has a huge amount of followers. The marriage equality Twitter awards is a fine example of the power of social media and how positive it can be. This Twitter campaign basically won the vote. This in addition to the #hometovote gives a real insight to how powerful any or all of social media can be.

    There are, however, negatives sides to social media power. It should come as no shock to anyone that power in the wrong hands can be wielded incorrectly and cause great harm and damage. Take the recent Late Late Toy Show for example. A six year old girl was the target of an abusive and unfounded attack via social media.
    In the end it all depends on who is wielding the power and for what purpose.

    In my opinion I definitely feel social media has contributed more positively than negatively to society. If it can be led by good people and holds her course true who knows what the world as a communityn can and will achieve

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  Jeffrey.

    Peter Madden

    Is social media community (whether personal or professional) all about new forms of control?

    Short answer: yes.

    Long answer: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss.

    Longer answer:

    Social media allows us to exercise control over others. The providers of social media services exercise control over us.

    But I think the control – a expression of power, but not necessarily the be-all-and-end-all of it – that users enjoy is illusory at best. Our ability to engage is based entirely on how much of ourselves we’re willing to give away and, to an extent, on the good graces of the service provider.

    Facebook is not a civil right. While right to freedom of expression is typical of many countries’ constitutions, it doesn’t mean the government is going to ensure the survival of your preferred online platform if it decides to shut down.

    The control the service providers wield has a variety of different factors:
    – They control what you put up there.
    – They control how and when you have access to your own content.
    – They control the manner in which you engage with their product.
    – They control the information you given them tacitly and explicitly
    And, because most social media sites are free –
    – They control how long they provide you with their service.

    As it becomes increasingly hardwired into our lives – you can’t apply for a job without a Linkedin profile; you can’t gain access to (or maintain contact with) a social circle without a Facebook profile; you can’t pay for something without the various forms of online ID that allow you to set up e-transaction accounts – will it reach a tipping point where basic social functions aren’t possible without some form of online SM presence?

    On a similar tack – where will the blurring of the lines between private and public/professional life end? If your boss is your friend on Facebook and your emails – work and otherwise – all come through to your phone when you you really leave the office?

    Do you need a second life online just to maintain privacy?

    In Hollywood you can’t get a job without an agent. They are as essential to the ecosystem. A performer can’t get a gig without one.

    Unless you’re Bill Murray.

    Bill has a phone number you call. You leave a message. He listens to it when it suits him and maybe he gets back to you, maybe he doesn’t.

    His approach of maintaining space between himself and the industry he works in is so odd as to become the stuff of cinema legend. But you’d better believe he had an agent at the start of his career. Back when he was just Bill Murray, working stiff.

    Will disengagement become the option of only the mega-rich and ultra powerful in the future? Will the ability – the luxury – to unplug from social media become the greatest display of power we have?



    In my opinion social media community is a new form of control. It is good that people are engaging with people from different culture and countries. The world has become a smaller world.
    My issue is with the amount of control individuals have given to these spaces. Rather than having them as a tool to connect to people to do something together, the power has been given to these spaces to control individuals. Social media is dictating what is right and wrong.
    It is interesting to read the history of democracy and make a comparison. In my view the current phase in social media is same as Communes in Italy: 11th – 13th century.
    “Prosperous but threatened, the cities seek greater control of their own destiny. The result is the form of government known to historians as the medieval commune.
    Between about 1080 and 1140 many of the towns of northern Italy (among them Pisa, Siena, Florence, Bologna, Milan and Genoa) acquire municipal councils in which the elected councillors call themselves consuls – in a deliberate echo of Italy’s republican past.

    As these republican communes grow in wealth, and assert control over large tracts of the surrounding countryside, they become in effect independent. Technically they acknowledge either pope or emperor as feudal overlord. Unable to restrain these fledgling city states, popes and emperors often authorize their new form of government and thus give it legitimacy.
    In the early years of these Italian communes every male citizen can participate in an assembly known as the arengo. But this glimmer of democracy is soon extinguished in favour ofoligarchy. Considerations of efficiency coincide with the interests of the nobility and the rich merchants of the city. Electoral power in the communes becomes increasingly restricted to members of a few families.”

    Read more:http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?groupid=2640&HistoryID=ac42&gtrack=pthc#ixzz3tZFvHWGt
    Sometimes it makes me wonder if we are going back in time or is social media trying to evolve?
    During the presentation this week, I was really surprised to hear that 90 percent of people are lurkers while the rest are generating content for other members of online community. Are these 10 percent individuals controlling and shaping the social media?
    If the 90percent of population is not saying anything, they are susceptible to being swayed by the other 10 percent. Interestingly out of 10 % only 1% is hard-core users who generate content.
    Power in hand of these few people is a dangerous thought. How easily has mankind forgotten the struggles to get free speech?

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 8 months ago by  piush.


    I wouldn’t say social media is all about power but there are elements to it that can give power to parties involved with it and power can be achieved by actions on it.

    The provider of the social media had the opportunity to gather data on the users, their likes, dislikes, personal views, habits, personal information, contact information etc. It’s up to them how they use it. Some choose to monetise it by targeted advertising to individuals, others simply sell on the data collected to 3rd parties and some work with governments for surveillance and to gain power over certain minorities or groups within society.

    The group of users on social media can garner power by getting attention for a cause they believe in and get public opinion behind it. It may be something like a good cause, fund raising for a charity or highlighting someone down on their luck or of ill health who’s in need of support. It can also be used for getting a governments attention about a policy or proposed law amendment which may not be very popular. Public opinion on social media has been effective in groups getting their message across such as happened with recent referendums in Ireland.

    An individual can also use the power of social media to fight an injustice their believe they have received at the hands of a corporate entity. This in turn can get a garner support from other users by getting them to share their feelings and experiences when dealing with the same corporate entity in the past. The negative publicity alone is usually enough to force that corporate entity into changing their approach and possibly correcting the injustice that the original individual experienced.

    Even within social media, there are power struggles going on between different groups of users trying to get their point across. Some others are targeting individuals or groups with their own hidden agendas or it could be simply one to one power struggles between those of differing opinions on a topic and by winning their argument they believe that it can be used to sway others towards their mindset and belief on the topic.

    So I suppose you could ask, when doesn’t power play a part in social media?



    I think there is a control tug-of-war between the users on a social media site and the site itself. The people are controlling their own profile by listing whatever interests and likes they have. The site then in a way are controlling this environment for the user to do this so that they can control which advertisements will be displayed to that particular user, because of their specified interests and likes. In fact that may be a large part of the reason that these options are available on the site.
    The user does have control over their privacy to a large extent to be fair to most social networks, as this has become a topical subject over the past few years. Also they have control over whether or not they want to use 3rd party applications on the site. But the site can share their information to advertisers. That is beyond the users control.

    With professional social spaces there is another (3rd) party pulling in a different way to the user and the site. This is the employer. There is certainly a struggle for control between the employer and employee.
    Employers sometimes go so far as to suggest to their employees what text to include on their “personal” professional profile. The Employer has really nothing to do with this profile but they are controlling it in a way. Perhaps this is because one of the main reasons people would be on a professional social network to begin with is to advertise themselves as hire-able.
    The employer in turn will want to come across as hire-able as possible on this site, while at the same time keeping their employer happy.
    It’s a four-way tug-of-war if you include the advertisers who have their own control struggle with the sites to get as much information as possible on the users, and take up as much real-estate as possible on the screen. The users are the party that are indirectly fighting against this as they would not use the site if advertisers were taking up too much real-estate.

    There is control-tugging happening in all directions!


    Diarmuid Kiernan

    Is social media community (whether personal or professional) all about new forms of control?

    Social Media these days plays a big role in peoples lives today but I don’t think it’s a form of control. Social Media is used to communicate and interact with others. It can also be used to rally support behind causes but whether you choose to follow or not is down to the individual. The information posted on Social Media can influence people but it can’t control them.

    There are very few controls on Social Media so people can pretty much publish anything they want. We have seen recently were a government tried to exert their control over a social media site (WhatsApp) in Brazil with a court order but failed in the end.

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