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Understanding Social Media

Extensions of Their Users


Robert K. Logan and Mira Rawady

The purpose of this book is to understand the nature of social media and the impact they are having on almost all aspects of modern-day existence from family life and social interactions to education and commerce. Just as fish are unaware of the water they swim in and we humans are unaware of the air that we breathe so it is that the users of social media are unaware of the effects of these media and take their existence as a natural part of their environment. The authors make use of Marshall McLuhan’s media ecology approach to understanding media in order to reveal the effects of social media on their users, how they are changing the nature of our social interactions and how we through our interaction with social media have become actual extensions of our social media, the reverse of McLuhan’s notion that media are extensions of mankind.

The authors analyze the major social media apps including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tinder, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and blogs as well as examining the Splinternet and the social media scene in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam and the Islamic world. Understanding Social Media studies the impacts of social media monopolies, the nature of advertising and branding in social media apps and the social media front in cyberwarfare and concludes with an analysis of the social media counter revolution waged by players who actually helped to create social media.

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Chapter Six: The Impacts of Social Media


Enhance: social interactions online; connectivity beyond geographic boundaries;

Obsolesces: face-to-face interactions; selectivity in making friends;

Retrieves: lost connections; village life; a sense of community;

Reverses or flips into: fake identities; fake friendships; fake news; loss of meaningful relationships; misperceptions of others; loss of privacy; targeted advertising based on personal user data; browsing addiction.

One of the major consequences of the Internet and the World Wide Web has been the emergence of social media. As of 2018 there were 2.65 billion social media users world-wide representing a 70% penetration rate of Internet users. The distribution of users with active accounts in billions, as of April 2018, for different applications is as follows: Facebook: 2.7 (i.e. 2.5 billion); YouTube: 2.0; WhatsApp: 2.0; Facebook Messenger: 1.3; WeChat: 1.206; Instagram: 1.158; TikTok: 0.689; QQ: 0.648; Douyin: 0.6; Sina Weibo: 0.523; QZone: 0.517; Reddit: 0.43; Kuiashou 0.4; Snapchat 0.398; Twitter: 0.386; Pinterest 0.366, ←51 | 52→Douban 0.32; and Linkedin 0.310 (, accessed January 11, 2021)

Social media are one of if not the most dominant class of applications on the Internet. In this chapter we will provide an overview of the phenomenon of social media leaving a description of individual social media sites to our next chapters.

McLuhan pointed out that all media provide both service and disservice when he wrote the following lines in an April 22, 1970 letter to Jonathan Miller: “All I am saying is that any product or...

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