“The Facebook Dilemma” Covered by PBS’s Frontline highlights the varied impacts the organization has had on society. The documentaries emphasize the role Facebook played in shaping global politics, the impacts the organization has had on privacy, and the societal divisions the organization has caused. The PBS film continues to further analyze Facebook’s evolution from a platform to connect family and friends to an organization of controversy and conflict, raising questions about its influence on the modern democracy. Despite Facebook’s mission of openness and connection, Facebook’s business model is extremely reliant on data collection and advertising revenue, leading to conflicts of and ethical dilemmas regarding the privacy of Facebook users.
The documentary emphasizes Facebook, and owner Mark Zuckerberg’s, extreme influence on political discourse, activism, international politics, as well as domestic politics. PBS illustrates how Facebooks has been utilized by governments such as Russia in the 2014 Ukrainian conflict, political operatives, and malicious actors to incite violence and spread misinformation to further their own goals. This poses the dangerous question, what is to stop Facebook from doing the same? PBS Frontline reporters move on to cover that despite warnings from stakeholders, Facebook’s dismissiveness and delayed responses underscore the organization’s inability to be accountable and act in a socially responsible manner, as emphasized by the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The PBS documentary’s analysis emphasizes the great need for improved transparency from Facebook, and in the modern day Zuckerberg’s further companies such as Instagram, in order to stem the negative consequences his organizations can have on society, democracies, and individuals. The analysis provided by PBS raises a critical question about the importance of addressing ethical and societal impacts organizations running amuck in the manner that they have been allowed. Only when laws disallowing the sale of personal information become more stringent, clear, and well enforced will we see an improvement in ethics.
In Video 1 (Motivation to Participate) Henry Jenkins and Clay Shirky discuss the availability that modern technologies provide the average person to start sharing their own stories. What ‘stories,’ as Jenkins dubs the type of communication he describes, did people not have the time to share or the lack of availability to spread the information they have to new people has been widely eliminated with the advent of the phone and internet in the daily lives of the average person. Shirky further discusses how interests and involuntary participation has led to important changes and creations such as Wikipedia and mass changes in civic culture, overall emphasizing the vast impacts of new modern social sciences impacted by new media.
In the second video, Jenkins explores transmedia storytelling, explaining how narratives can unfold across the various new media platforms. He emphasizes the democratizing effect of participatory culture, allowing diverse voices and perspectives to emerge and be heard more regularly. Examples such as the Obama campaign, he illustrates, emphasizes how ordinary citizens can use media platforms to challenge overwhelmingly dominating narratives and advocate for points like social justice. This transformation offers opportunities for marginalized communities to share their stories and reshape how media is represented by the public.
In this short interview with USC professor Henry Jenkins, Jenkins discusses a shift into the new media landscape where communication through stories, brands, and relationships spans across a myriad of channels impacted by countless numbers of decisions. In this interview Jenkins argues that cultural change precedes technological change, and with the adaptation of the people to new media, technology will continue to follow to meet the needs of the people using it. This participatory culture that the professor describes is an attitude that enables increased participation and consumerism amongst the average person. New media is able to act as a mass forum, driving forward a societal shift in how content is created and shared.
My name is Dawson Grever, and I am a junior here at UW-Whitewater. I live in the Lake Geneva area, commute, and take classes online to further my education and prepare myself for my future in the professional world.
Feel free to follow along with me as I make posts for my classes, share my thoughts, and discuss my day to day!