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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 Nine: Snapchat


Enhances: visual dimension of online conversations; shock value; self-esteem; opportunities for humor; rapid communication; selfie culture; flirting;

Obsolesces: a record of the communication; video chats;

Retrieves: flashing; practical jokes;

Reverses or flips into: sexting; vapid interactions; vulgarity.

Snapchat is a smartphone-based application that once it is downloaded, registered and its password is set it then accesses the user’s contacts on their smartphone to automatically load friends to the app. Other friend not on the contact list of the user’s phone can be added as well. According to the creators of the app, Snap, Inc., Snapchat is based on the premise that “talking with photos and videos, with our real friends, [is] more personal and more fun than texting” (, accessed on February 18, 2020). The way that Snapchat, a multimedia messaging app, operates is that any picture, video or message that is sent to a receiver is available to that receiver for only a short time before it become disappears or self-destructs and becomes inaccessible. Snapchat differs from Instagram which is another app premised on messaging with images by the fact that messages disappear after a short time anywhere from 1 to 10 seconds ←83 | 84→depending on the choice of the sender. The messages or snaps are accessible, however, by its creator in a password protected space known as “my eyes only,” if they so choose.

Snapchat introduced other mechanisms to preserve images from disappearing. One such mechanism...

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