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Interactivity 2

New media, politics and society- Second edition


Alec Charles

Two years is a long time in the world of new media – a world of phubbing and selfies, of cyberbullying and neknomination, of bitcoins, Prism surveillance and Google Glass. Much has occurred since the first edition of this book: from the extraordinary social media responses to the deaths of Margaret Thatcher, Nelson Mandela and Peaches Geldof, to the Twitterstorms occasioned by allegations against a late peer of the realm, the rise of the UK Independence Party and the popularity of The Great British Bake Off. The Egyptian revolution has come undone, the Turkish government has banned YouTube, the American President has looked beyond Facebook and the British Prime Minister has started to tweet. World leaders at a 2014 summit even played an interactive nuclear war game. Emergent technologies have been held responsible for the demise of a television presenter in a snowball-related incident, the disappearance of a Pacific island and the appearance of an unfeasibly massive squid. Drawing upon developments in social networking, crowdsourcing, clicktivism, digital games and reality TV, this study asks whether the technological innovations which sponsored such absurdities might ever promote progressive modes of social interaction and political participation. Perhaps somewhat absurdly, it suggests they one day might.


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Chapter 5: Social Networks


Chapter 5 Social Networks In September 2009 the BBC quoted Facebook Vice-President Mike Schroepfer on the company’s mission ‘to get as much of the entire world on the social network.’ Facebook’s ambition is overtly directed towards global domination and by implication the homogenization of the contexts and structures of social interaction. In April 2010 the BBC reported on what it described as ‘Facebook’s bid to rule the web.’ On 22 August 2013 The Independent observed that Facebook founder ‘Mark Zuckerberg plans world conquest.’ Writing in The Observer on 1 February 2014 – the com- pany’s tenth birthday – John Naughton asked whether the website was ‘in danger of swallowing the web.’ In April 2014 it was reported that Facebook had accumulated a grand total of 1.28 billion active users. Facebook’s own Facebook page announces that ‘Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and con- nected.’ It is unclear whether this strategy includes the use of a public rela- tions company to plant negative stories about its rival Google, as reported in May 2011. On his own Facebook page the site’s founder Mark Zuckerberg lists his personal interests as ‘openness, making things that help people connect and share what’s important to them, revolutions, information flow, minimalism.’ In these terms Facebook represents a revolutionarily minimalist notion of information flow, one in which the flow itself, the process of connection and of sharing, and the condition of openness which affords that possibility, signify more, absolutely more,...

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