Living in a Connected World/News, Evidence and Memory in Online Communications

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

T

he world is largely online due to advanced technology that allows the general public access to mass information at their fingertips. The Internet allows people to read up on the news and keep up to date with world events rather than watching the news on television or reading about it. Being able to share world events online on various social sites allow the general public to play an active role. This means news can spread to all ages, educating not only adults but youths on world events. It also encourages people to upload their own experiences online, giving agents online a chance to get a diverse view on events.

Memory in online Communications can be explained through the digital footprint that is left behind when individuals use the internet. Dataveillance is the concept of monitoring a persons online activity to achieve personal details as well as their web history. Cookies are a way of tracking individuals rather that based on the IP address of the computer. The IP address will not differentiate between users. While cookies can be used to personalise the information and send and save text posts based on the individual which is then used to create ads etc that pop up on other websites to increase interest and sales for that company.

The ever evolving world of online communication brings about a questioning attitude by the users of the Internet. The vastness of the Internet and the ability to write whatever comes to mind has resulted in the online world being overwhelmed with untrue information. The constant spewing of falsehoods online has meant that it is often difficult to find sources for information and means that when researching online, you must wade through useless information to find fact.

With the increasing amount of evidence being made available online, it gets easier and easier to gather evidence on a certain person or topic. In relation to Social Media; when wanting to gain access to information online this is a great way of building evidence through the use of all different social media sites available it takes no time at all. In terms of having all of this evidence available to us, of course it is convenient but the question of 'Is it reliable?" comes in. I will talk about the benefits and risks of this evidence and how simple it is to access the information itself.

Internet Footprints[edit | edit source]

We hear phrases all the time such as ‘that computer saves all your cookies’, ‘be careful of your digital footprint’ and ‘once that’s on the internet it’s there forever.’ For some people this may be very confusing, what does this all really mean? Well your digital footprint is basically a trail that your internet use leaves behind. It can be used for both your benefit or downfall as it can be used by criminals to steal your information and track you, employers to look at your behaviour or keep a track of your credit ratings. Our information is always out there. With the increase in the amount of personal data that is available to people on the internet Stephen Weaver and Mark Gahegan bring up the dangers of having an imagined world where everyone’s personal information was in one place, referring to it as the ‘digital footprint’ such as large companies story and collecting data to sell for a profit to other companies or parties, they also say in their article that even individuals can pay to get access to other people’s information through websites such as ‘and for a fee’ that provide such records as adoption papers all the way to property ownerships records. Weaver and Gahegan [1]

Your digital footprint can be used to track your location and activates online. Many articles draw on the idea of privacy invasion when talking about the digital footprints. Benson and Filippaios [2] state ‘technology may be significantly changing boundaries between 'publicity' and 'privacy’.’ Teens are at an increasing amount of risk on social media, they are able to share too much information about them, falsify information or are under the risk of falling prey to someone who is not who they say they are. This ‘digital footprint’ puts teens at risk, saving every part of bullying and inappropriate information, pictures etc that they post which puts their futures at risk, and has the opportunity to tarnish their reputations. The lack of awareness of children and teens that ‘what goes online stays online’. O’Keeffe, Clarke-Pearson 2011 [3] . But it’s not all bad, digital footprints allow for the chance to hold people responsible for their actions. Someone who is cyber bullying someone, people who are harassing or stalking people etc can be traced, tracked and found. They can be held accountable when they thought they could easily hide behind the anonymity of the internet. Explicit and implicit footprints can leave a digital footprint. Depending on how you use the internet. Tweeting locations or what you are doing at a specific time is very explicit. Implicit footprints however are based around what is searched using your IP address, every website you visit and the last websites you were on. The all leave a digital footprint, even as light as they are they are individual Digital Footprint 2014 [4]. The links that some of these websites make, such as the shopping ads that pop up on your Facebook, and linking the items you’ve looked up to create specific ads based on your views can have issues due to them being too light. These websites can’t work solely based on your IP address as there may be multiple users of the device and so they can’t decipher who may have been on which websites. This is where cookies come in.

Weaver and Gahegan[5] talk about how the Electronic Privacy Information Centre in the USA collected data between 1990s and 2002 to find out what the opinion on privacy was (EPIC 2005). The results showed individuals;
  • Want control of both initial data collection and data sharing.
  • Want accountability and security.
  • Want comprehensive legislation, not self-regulation.
  • Want value anonymity
  • Do not trust companies to administer personal data and fear both private-sector and government abuses of privacy.
  • Are unaware of prevalent tracking methods.
  • want notice of how their personal information is collected and used and with whom it is shared.


Dataveillance[edit | edit source]

The word dataveillance was coined by Rodger A. Clarke stating it is ‘the systematic use of personal data systems in the investigation or monitoring of the actions or communications of one or more persons.’ For advertisements dataveillance can be used to track your specific online history to make personalised banners or ads the pop up on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. The information that you share on these sites are sent to companies as a way of you being able to use the site for ‘free’. Ads that pop up on these sites are there to pay for it, but these companies pay to get personal information so they can personally the ads for increased sales. Your Personal Identifiable Information (PII) is what social network services (SNS) use to pay for their sites. Pierson, Heyman 2011[6] Although this isn’t the biggest invasion of privacy, many people are unaware of it. Contextual Integrity was designed to show if a breach in privacy had occurred or not. One example of this is a site ‘Buzz’ who wrongfully gave out users contact lists via their email, which could have exposed personal information such as their doctors or lovers. Pierson, Heyman 2011.

Personal Dataveillance refers to the monitoring of individual people, they know who this person is and collect data only connected to that one users. This can be used to build cases against people in criminal investigations, so can either be for good or for bad depending on the person involved. Mass Dataveillance refers to the whole populations, a collection of all the data available. Clarke 1997 [7]. Mass Dataveillance has caused government control to be increased due to the increase in knowledge. Clarke 1988 [8]

Cookies[edit | edit source]

When you visit a website, whatever website that may be, our information such as our name etc. in a text format and websites can use this formation to adjust itself accordingly. Lin, Loui 1998 [9] This can be by editing and changing advertisements, put items etc. that are similar to what you have previously bought to come up first on the website such as with Amazon and Ebay. The fact that this is all done automatically makes the process as unobtrusive as possible. Pierson and Heyman 2011.

First party HTTP cookies, developed to allow a memory or ‘state’ to the internet. Due to the nature of encoding it is extremely hard to know the exact information that is past on buy a cookie, this is to stop outsiders from stealing it. This type of cookie is all about passing your information on, to other websites etc.


Third Party HTTP Cookies are different, they fall under the advertisement section of cookies pasted on from your website history to a third party, hence the name. They are more obtrusive in everyday life as these are the type that pop up from website to website such as Instagram and Facebook, constantly showing you stuff to buy that you were probably looking at earlier. There is a feeling like you can’t escape from this type of cookie and so it interferes more. Some can even hold this memory up to 30 years Pierson and Heyman 2011. So we may even be getting these adds for River Island or Nike for years to come after we have lost interest.


Arguments against cookies are as follows;

  • It is stored without knowledge or consent
  • Your information can be sold on (more junk mail etc.)
  • Double click banners that some websites use

Evidence and the Unreliability of Online Sources[edit | edit source]

The expansion of online communication has resulted in the Internet being rife with false claims and a general sense of unreliability and unaccountability. This means that when an Internet user is searching for a specific piece of information, they could be faced with untruths and in turn they could pass these false facts onto other people. This is also the case for social media. Social media is notorious for producing false rumours, namely celebrity deaths that have not occurred. This often results in the fake information being a trending topic and being shared the world over. It could be argued that our current love for trolling one another is the reason for this but it is also due to the fact that the Internet has become so overwhelmed with the amount of information available that there is no guarantee that everything is true.

One aspect of the Internet that I find to be unreliable is Wikipedia. This is quite relevant as this is what our current project is focussing on. Personally, I have been aware of the unreliability of Wikipedia since High School. Teachers would discourage you from using Wiki as a source for essays, particularly in English. This is due to the fact that Wiki can be edited by anyone, within reason. For example, it has been highly publicised in the news that ‘chancers’ have edited the Wikipedia pages of their favourite bands to state that they were a relative. I have read on many occasions that this has allowed random people entry into the VIP area of concerts. This is a worry as people will take anything they read at face value instead of looking further into the topic and questioning the evidence provided. [10]Jaron Lanier comments on the problem of "the way the Wikipedia has come to be regarded and used; how it's been elevated to such importance so quickly. And that is part of the larger pattern of the appeal of a new online collectivism that is nothing less than a resurgence of the idea that the collective is all-wise, that it is desirable to have influence concentrated in a bottleneck that can channel the collective with the most verity and force.” This is true. Wikipedia is relied upon due to the vast amount of topics that it does cover. This could be why it is taken as true fact by so many people. However, Wiki users do need to be more diligent in their research, looking for evidence to back up their sources to ensure they are reliable.

In our current web climate, we are faced with an unbelievable amount of anonymous activity online, especially on social media. It is easy to create a Twitter, Instagram or YouTube account under a fake name. It is then even easier to produce fake facts and information on your account as accountability on these sites is not shown to be a priority and much like Wikipedia, people accept what they read without much investigation. [11]Lanier also commented, “Anonymous blog comments, vapid video pranks, and lightweight mashups may seem trivial and harmless, but as a whole, this widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned interpersonal interaction.” His views on this topic are quite striking and make you think about your experience online – are you just another impersonal account? Do you hold yourself accountable for what your post online? Do you question what you read online or do you take everything as fact? We are often anonymous online, hiding behind the egg icon that is traditionally offered. This anonymity almost seems to encourage the purposeful production of false information and rumors. If we were limited to only being able to identify as our true selves online, I believe that the purposeful trolling online would stop. It would maybe stop being malicious rather than stop altogether as there is a comical side to reading some untrue facts that have a funny twist. For example, it is frequently stated online that celebrities like Pharrell Williams and Keanu Reeves are Vampires, not able to age. This is untrue, with no evidence or sources but it is there for comical reasons.

The uses of online communication have changed as the Internet has grown. This has resulted in the information available online being unreliable and people being unaccountable for the lies they contribute to social media. People using the Internet for research purposes should not take the information they find at face value and look for sources and evidence to back up the claims they find. False claims and information will have no evidence or sources to refer to so will be easy to differentiate between genuine facts.

Evidence Available Online and in Social Media[edit | edit source]

In this section I will talk about Evidence online and in Social Media. I will cover how easy it is to gain access to information and evidence online in general and through Social Media sites and what this can lead to. I will also talk about the possible risks and good outcomes of having such easy access to evidence online.

Online in general[edit | edit source]

In relation to documentation and memory, everything we upload online is stored and recorded meaning it will always be in the internets memory and been documented. Therefore by ‘deleting’ whatever we uploaded wont just make it disappear forever; it may go off our profiles but there are other areas of the internet where it will always be in the history.


Moving on from things we personally upload online, there is also certain evidence which is available online such as Prison Records. After simply searching online it is possible to view prison registers and trace certain people. It also provides us with ‘people with convictions’, Archives of ‘Criminals and Convicts.’ We can see a list of prisoners and staff and many more.

Another example is Military records, School registers and records and many more important aspects of our country.

Social Media[edit | edit source]

Jaron Lanier- 'locked-in'

Social Media contains sites such as Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and vlogging etc. The main reasons people use these sites is for staying in touch, expressing identity, entertainment, organised political resistance etc. But there are a lot more factors which come into this.Using "Jaron Lanier’s" terminology of being ‘locked-in’ this is definitely the case with Social media. It has our society locked-in by continuously logging on to our profiles and taking part online.


In terms of Facebook it is mostly the younger generation who takes part although there are also members of the older generation which take part in social media too. Using myself and friends as an example; During times we aren’t on Facebook such as in class, when we leave the class we have multiple notifications and feel as if we need to take time out of our day to catch up and see what we have missed. Although there are some older adults like this too. Therefore I feel that Lanier is correct when he says it is possible to be ‘locked-in’ to social media.


People do not just use social media as the answer to boredom or part of their daily routine; As "David Gauntlett’s" theory of “Making is Connecting” explains – people being creative participants in their own lives; making things to feel a sense of being alive in the world. Creating and sharing is part of the ways we engage, encourage and develop one another in a shared social environment i.e. Communities, subcultures, nations, institutions. But there is a pessimistic side to this being: “If the Web becomes a place where people are not typically creative, where the anticipated mode of engagement is consumption rather than creativity, then it will have become an industrial tool, and its positive potential will be destroyed.”


In relation to Technology and Intention with Social media and online activism: people can actually have social media careers- in this case certain peoples evidence of their actual careers are online. This is one of the areas of online activity which we can apply the term of being ‘Always-on.’ Being ‘Always-on’ is a cultural expectation that we are always available. This is one of the reasons why we even consider checking social media when having the desire to find evidence on someone. This is to do with the notion of availability. Before the world of mobile phones- there were no expectations. Now it is expected to always have our phone, perhaps incase of emergency? – We are always expected to be available which seems to be no excuse not to be available. This blurs the boundaries between online presence and offline real world presence. Therefore is it acceptable to see it as evidence when someone is online, or if they are offline, do we assume this as evidence that everything isn’t ok?


Social media in general exhibit a rich variety of information sources: in addition to the content itself, there is a wide array of non-content information available, such as links between items and explicit quality ratings from members of the community. This information can be seen as evidence, If I decided I wanted to go out for a meal and started researching where would be best to go, having ratings on certain restaurants is evidence of how good it is.


As already mentioned in the above section, ‘social media is notorious for spreading false rumors.’ The example used about faking celebrity deaths which leads to fake information being shared around the world is a good way of seeing how quick information can be spread across the web appearing on millions of peoples accounts. This just proves how easily people could gather evidence on each other. Moving on to another example, If I share something online from my friend who lives in Scotland, It will reach my friends back home in Northern Ireland where they could then share, each time continuously reaching people in different countries across the world and so on. Therefore depending on the content of the posts, evidence on certain individuals could appear on our newsfeed without even looking for it.


With the help of social media it is extremely easy to access evidence on people across the world no matter the circumstances. It is also simple to build up evidence on someone based only on their profile. For example, getting tagged in things is not in our hands but in whoever is uploading the post. When we get tagged in different things whether it be posts, pictures or locations, this is evidence of where we were. Our own profiles are also evidence of who we are, where we are, where we have been, when and who we were with and the list goes on. Our profiles being linked to our friends accounts leads to their friends then seeing information about us too. Pictures is sure evidence of where we were whichever situation it was taken in.


Depending on which situation we may find ourselves in, the outcome could all depend on how we present ourselves on social media, for example some Companies where we may be applying for a job will look at our social media profiles to see how we present ourselves online which will make up their mind if they would want to hire them to represent their company or not; almost like a second CV. Universities may also look at our social media profiles to see what kind of person we are and how we represent ourselves. I can relate this to a personal experience of mine; when I was at college, a University came to visit us to tell us all about their University and they told us they would check our profiles.


Thomas D Mayfield [12] explained this stating "Social media are changing the way that information is passed across societies and around the world. The rapid spread of blogs, social networking sites, and media-sharing technology (such as YouTube), aided by the proliferation of mobile technology. Citizens with cell phone cameras can transmit damning images to the world, unfiltered, in the time it takes to make a phone call. People can use social networking to mobilize groups in support of a cause without having to expose themselves to the risks and costs formerly associated with activism. In response, governments and institutions can do little to effectively stop it."

Neda Agha-Soltan gravesite in Behesht-e Zahra cemetery in Iran

Thomas D Mayfield also provided an Example of when evidence helped in an important situation: In Tehran, June 20, 2009; A women Neda Agha-Soltan was sitting in her Peugeot 206 in traffic on Kargar Avenue. She was accompanied by her music teacher and close friend, Hamid Panahi, and two others. The four were on their way to participate in the protests against the outcome of the 2009 Iranian presidential election. The car’s air conditioner was not working well, so Neda stopped her car some distance from the main protests and got out on foot to escape the heat. She was standing and observing the sporadic protests in the area when she was shot in the chest (reportedly by a member of the Basij, the pro-government Iranian militia). As captured on amateur video, she collapsed to the ground and was tended to by a doctor and others from the crowd. Someone in the crowd shouted, “She has been shot! Someone, come and take her!” The video spread across the Internet virally, quickly gaining the attention of international media and viewers. Discussions about the incident on Twitter became one of the most viewed topics worldwide by the end of the day. What happened next reveals the potential power of social media. Within hours, several versions of the video were posted on YouTube and linked to various other Web sites. Millions saw the gruesome photos of Neda’s death when they were posted. The images highlighted the harsh response from the Iranian government and added fuel to the next 10 days of violent protests in Tehran. Many people around the world began posting editorials about the protests and the Iranian government’s oppressive reactions. Twitter reported millions of tweets, most condemning the Iranian government and its supporters. Iranian students began using Twitter and Facebook, as well as Flickr, the social site that allows users to post and share photos, to communicate to the Iranian audience information about when and where the next protest would take place, and which streets to avoid because of police or militia checkpoints.

This is an example of when the use of social media can help as it is evidence on a situation. In many cases around the world, the use of technology and social media can benefit many cases as a video, voice recording or pictures is definite evidence regardless of how important the case is; From a situation between two people to a court case, this kind of evidence could encourage the outcome.

Benefits/Risks[edit | edit source]

The quality of user-generated content varies drastically from excellent to abuse and spam. As the availability of such content increases, the task of identifying high-quality content sites based on user contributions becomes increasingly important.


BENEFITS OF CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS USING SOCIAL MEDIA:

Socialisation and Communication

  1. opportunities for community engagement through raising money for charity and volunteering for local events
  2. enhancement of individual and collective creativity through development and sharing of artistic and musical endeavors
  3. growth of ideas from the creation of blogs, podcasts, videos, and gaming sites
  4. expansion of one's online connections through shared interests to include others from more diverse backgrounds and fostering of one's individual identity and unique social skills.


Enhanced Learning Opportunities

As I have previously talked about in my wiki post, Social Media isn’t always negative as Students can use social media to connect with one another on homework and group projects. For example, Facebook and similar social media programs allow students to gather outside of class to collaborate and exchange ideas about assignments. Some schools successfully use blogs as teaching tools, which has the benefit of reinforcing skills in English, written expression, and creativity.

Accessing Health Information

Adolescents are finding that they can access online information about their health concerns easily and anonymously. Excellent health resources are increasingly available to youth on a variety of topics of interest to this population, such as sexually transmitted infections, stress reduction, and signs of depression.

Although there are also Risks of using social media for example;


RISKS OF YOUTH USING SOCIAL MEDIA:

Using social media becomes a risk to adolescents more often than most adults realize. Most risks fall into categories such as; peer-to-peer, inappropriate content and lack of understanding of online privacy issues.

Youth and Electronic aggression

Cyberbullying and Online Harassment

Cyberbullying is quite common, and can occur to any young person online, and can cause profound psychosocial outcomes including depression, anxiety, severe isolation, and tragically, suicide.

The same as many cases around the world a women appeared on This Morning, trying to raise awareness of cyberbullying and the effects it can have on not only the individual but their families too. As I already mentioned, This kind of activity online can lead to young teens/adults being depressed or even committing suicide but also can cause Moral Panics to the parents.


Sexual Activity

Messaging someone in a sexual way can be defined as sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images via cell phone, computer, or other digital devices. Many of these images become distributed rapidly via cell phones or the Internet. 'This phenomenon does occur among the teen population; a recent survey revealed that 20% of teens have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photographs or videos of themselves.' This is a classic example of when things we send and post online become part of online evidence against us which is completely out of our hands. [13]

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

All the evidence we can gather online and on social media is convenient but there is a question of how reliable it is and also if our online identities align with our real-life identities; Which you can read further on this in the above section ‘Evidence and the Unreliability of Online Sources.’

One could argue that social media functions to serve these plural needs albeit in very different contexts.

In conclusion I think it is acceptable to say it is simple to gather evidence on someone online whether it be online in general through the internet or over social media. Everything we post is online for good whether we delete it off our own profiles or not, there will always be evidence of our indentities online.

Evidence and Data Tracking by The U.S. Government[edit | edit source]

In a changing world even within countries traditionally viewed for their liberal ways governments can be seen expanding their surveillance power through technology. Although arguably less visible than in countries such as Russia it is America and Britain that are leading this revolution through the use of technology to find both information of already convicted criminals and of information for ongoing cases. In America authorities have the power to read emails and phone calls with a warrant that does not require “probable cause” for any crime. However wiretapping is illegal for government and citizens and the power of the National security Agency of America to record phone calls was voted to end in 2012. The US government can monitor the duration of ingoing and outgoing calls as well as gaining phone numbers of individuals through proving to the court that there is an ongoing investigation going on rather than presenting a probable cause. Without a judge’s approval the government can get phone records with an administrative subpoena. Phone data is also used to track people’s locations, as smart phones via the use of GPS features and local phone towers. Democrat Senator Edward J Marky investigated this in 2012 and found that Sprint provide data about locations to law enforcement 67,000 time that year, whereas AT&T provided 77,800. [14] Each computer and smart phone also has a unique IP address that can be tracked legally by the government and since 2014 T-Mobile, Verizon and US Cellular have admitted to providing the government with such information. However they have disclosed the amount of information that has been shared.

Photojournalism[edit | edit source]

Overview

Photojournalism is essentially a method of journalism that focuses on telling a story through the medium of pictures. The term photojournalism was coined by Cliff Edom, a professor at the University of Missouri. (Purdy) [15] Famous examples of photojournalism would be the documentation of the collapse of the Berlin wall or the photos of the destruction from the twin towers in 2001.

The Fall of the Wall (November 1989)

Photojournalism is a useful method for recording and storing information for years. It is an extremely effective method of showing information without having to use words as the old saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. When looking at photojournalism in relation to memory, photos are much easier to save and store than a large piece of writing. Photo’s are generally trusted more than a written article. Now that we live in a world of Smartphones, internet and digital photography, photojournalism has become more popular than ever. In a world where everything is technology driven, people have to see for themselves the harrowing effect of shrapnel on a family in Syria. Or they need to rewatch and remind themselves of how momentous the moon landing was. They need to see the devastation of 9/11 with their own eyes. Our lives move at such a ferocious pace that many people can't read a newspaper cover to cover, so need the photos to summarize the article. In relation to photojournalism and the role it plays in the news, if a news story was just a written piece or written accusation, it would be a lot less convincing than if it had pictures alongside it. There are plenty cases in British law where a judge ruled that an article was allowed to be published, however pictures could not be published. This shows the power that photojournalism has, as it is just a common idea that photos offer far more concrete evidence than just a written piece. (Wanke)[16]

As can be seen from the photo of the Berlin Wall collapse, pictures can be saved for years and years. With computer and smartphone memory swiftly becoming larger and larger, the amount of photos that can be saved to a hard drive forever is obscene. People can save their photos on their phone, back them up using the cloud and pass them from phone to phone easily. All this means that photos we take now can be kept for our whole lives if need be. The other part of photojournalism and memory is human memory. Photos are surprisingly easy to remember, hence why they are so powerful. The photo of the refugee boy washed up on the beach last year sent shock waves through the world and was implanted on everyone who saw it's memory.

The final thing to look at is photojournalism and it's role in online communication. Snapchat is a method of online communication that revolves entirely around communicating through photographs. Facebook allows users to post photos and other users can comment on the picture, allowing communication through photos. Online websites such as Flickr and Pinterest both centre around sharing photos and commenting on other users' pictures.

Authorship[edit | edit source]

In regards to social media, it is believed in the online community that it is free to use to an extent. That all contents uploaded in social media websites are free for all. However, this is not completely true. When a user uploads any content to a social media site it is just a publication, yet, this does not mean that users are sharing their rights over their publications to anyone, they use them as their will.

The fact that many websites include an intellectual property license in their terms of use that must be accepted by their users. These intellectual property rights licenses are limited. They are usually non-exclusive and usually authorised the use of content that users hang on to the social network. So that both the social network itself and other users can use them but only within the network itself, social or in connection with it or with the services provided by it. Therefore, no use is authorised or for any other purposes. So, each social network that provides a different authorise use in each case at any time. On top of that, many social networks reserve the right to modify their conditions at any time.

For instance, Facebook says in their principles that People should own their information. They should have the freedom to share it with anyone they want and take it with them anywhere they want, including removing it from the Facebook Service."

Intellectual Property Rights[edit | edit source]

Generally Intellectual Property is associated with great inventions, writers, famous brands or companies of world-wide size; however this is not true. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): "It relates to the creations of the mind, inventions, literary and artistic works, as well as symbols, names and images used in commerce." As early as 1883, the importance of the protection of creation in the Paris Convention for the protection of industrial property was recognized, and three years later, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic activities. WIPO is currently responsible for ensuring compliance with both treaties. Intellectual Property is divided into two broad categories which in turn are composed of several types of creations.

Industrial property: Here are the names (the names used to distinguish the products and services of one company from another), industrial designs (the design of the appearance of an item or product), geographical indications Which indicate the place of origin of a product) and patents (rights over inventions).

Copyright: It refers to literary and artistic creations and includes literary works, poems, plays, novels, musical creations, films, paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, architectural designs, databases, computer programs, etc.

Copyright and Intellectual Property are that important that it is enshrined as a right. Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights establishes the right to the benefit of the protection of the interests resulting from artistic, literary or scientific creation. That means that every creator has the right not only to protect what he has created, but also to enjoy the benefits he can generate.


Infringements of Copyright In Online News and Social Media.[edit | edit source]

Infringements are quite common in social media networks. Every day contents uploaded by the users in these websites such photos, videos, songs, illustrations etc., are used by third parties without the owner’s authorisation. This practice goes against the intellectual property rights, however, in many cases the use of this intellectual property is slightly edited to avoid infringements of the networks licenses. In the US the use of photographs of third parties, has been precisely the subject of various procedure that has ended in a conviction for copyright infringement. An example of it is the case of Daniel Morel , a Haitian photographer that took several pictures after the earthquake in 2010 and after uploading them on twitter they were used by the agencies 'Agence France Presse' and 'Getty Images' who sold them to different news media sites. After three years of proceedings, the federal jury sentenced the agencies to pay damages of $1.200.000 for infringement of intellectual property rights. This infringements give a broad vision of how an original work must be respected in both, online platforms and “real life”.


What is an Original Work?[edit | edit source]

It is clear that images, videos etc. have been taken as original works and that to an extent are protected by the intellectual property licenses of each social media network. However, it is still in debate if other publications are protected by them or not. In the case of Twitter and Facebook, tweets or status are in general very short, nonetheless they are still content created by the users and it is not clear how to treat them yet. However there are examples of how different compilations of Tweets have been used to create other original works such as books. The case of “Tweets of Tahrir” is a book that gather the tweets and status that the Egyptians activist sent during the days of the revolution of Egypt in January and February in 2013. Other cases found could be the French book, “Les Perles des Tweets et du net” that gather a compilation of tweets that Larousse editorial released without the name of the authors. Finally the book was retired.

Citizen Journalism[edit | edit source]

From the printing press to advancing technological innovations, various methods have enabled the dissemination of more and more media forms over broader audiences. This comes in the form of ‘Citizen Journalism’ where the general public play an active role in the writing of and distribution of the news. It is also related to Participatory Theory. This ‘focuses on news reporting and the political power involved with destabilising the one directional broadcast from a reporter to an audience into a multivoiced conversation among participants‘. This creation of amateur media is enabled by message boards, audience review sites, blogs, comment systems and photo and video sharing on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. These sites are deemed worthless without audience participation. [17]

The advantage of ‘Citizen Journalism’ is that people gain a better understanding, and also a diverse viewpoint due to the wide range of people discussing the matter through different platforms. This displays that ‘Citizen Journalism’ can improve the effectiveness of news media. Technological advancements have played a key role, people rely on internet portals and news websites to get their daily news. Only half would rather use television and newspapers. Statistics show that more than 1.4 million blog posts are written each day and a large percentage of these posts concern political topics or other elements of news, increasing audience numbers. [18]

Theories[edit | edit source]

Habermas, a German Sociologist, uses the two-level Marxian model to differentiate between the real world for social reproduction of values and culture and the system for materialistic reproduction of economic goods and services. Communication in the real world is aimed to help people reach a common understanding when discussing a topic. Habermas claims that communicative action between agents can succeed in achieving this understanding by following a set of discourse rules for arguments put forth by agents. For example, one of the rules states that agents are allowed to freely challenge the arguments given by other agents and who then have to justify the arguments given by other agents and who then have to justify the arguments they put forth. It is claimed that discourses obeying such rules eventually lead to a common understanding among the agents. The argumentative nature and requirement for answerability that can take place on social websites can lead to increased understanding for people. Habermas also believes that the success of communicative action depends on the linguistic and cultural similarities between the agents, which aids in understanding each other easily. This can be applied to Facebook, Twitter and blogs where people have mutual friends and blogs are exchanged between mutual friends. [19]

George Gerbner a professor of communication, proposed a general model of communication in 1956. According to this model an observer interoperates an event or a message about the event according to his own perceptions, codifies his observations in another message, and transmits it to some other recipient. At each step the perceptions of the observer influence the message she creates, and this affects the way in which the original event is perceived by the next recipient. Bloggers write about events from their own perspectives, and this affects the interpretation of the event drawn by people reading their post. People who read multiple blogs tend to have a diverse view. [19]

Examples of Citizen Journalism[edit | edit source]

CNN shows an example of ‘Citizen Journalism, which ‘enables acts of civic engagement’ (Papacharissi, 2010). Around the world, people posted more than 100,000 stories on CNNiReport.com in 2013, and out of that 10, 789 of them were fact checked and broadcast on CNN. One of these stories was Adele Raemer, an English teacher living along the Gaza strip. She shared her feelings of fear and frustration after rocket attacks between Israel and the Palestinian territories ended a cease-fire. This personal viewpoint conveyed a level of emotion and authenticity that no reporter could portray. [20]

Her twitter is also dedicated to show general public what life is truly like living on the Gaza Strip: Adele Raemer's Twitter Page

Another twitter page that has proved popular recently is a young Syrian girl Bana Alabed. She tweets about what life is like for a young person in Syria. This gives the general public a true depiction of what it is like there, as no journalist is able to get into Syria. It allows the general public to see the true terror and how it affects Syrians daily lives. It proves to be effective as the general public become more aware of world events. The platform used ‘Twitter’ is proven to be most popular with teenagers, according to the Pew Research study of teen social media usage. It highlighted that 42% of online youths aged 15-17 use Twitter. Bana Alabed's Twitter account reaches out to young people and educates them on the conflict in Syria. The Twitter page proves to be popular as she has 363K followers. I personally found out about the Twitter page through Facebook. On Facebook, 79% of users are adults, displaying that this young girl's Twitter page that documents the true horrors of life in Syria reached a diverse audience due to the internet and social media websites. [21]

Is the Internet Dominated by Citizen Journalism?[edit | edit source]

Despite these powerful examples of ‘Citizen Journalism’ on social media the Internet is still dominated by corporations. For example, despite the popularity of Youtube with the general public, the most popular videos on Youtube stem from global multimedia companies such as Universal, Sony and Walt Disney. Google and Facebook are based on targeted advertising models an a commercial culture which results in huge profits. Politics on sites such as Google, Facebook and Twitter are a minority whilst their predominant focus of users are for non-political entertainment.[22] However, ‘The Guardian’ proves that big companies use ‘Citizen Journalism’ to their advantage. Channel 4 used approximately 30,000 clips that had been uploaded on various social media sites for their documentary ‘Syria’s Torture Machine’. These clips of raw footage are more enticing and emotional thanks to their authenticity. [23]

While big corporations dominate the Internet, ‘Citizen Journalism’ proves to be on the rise thanks to technological advances and the mass audience of social media. The chance for the general public to play an active role not only allows agents to get a diverse view on the world but it also spreads news and makes all ages from teens to adults more aware of world events. Raw footage of terrors happening around the world gives people an authentic viewpoint.

News in Social Media[edit | edit source]

Overview[edit | edit source]

Social media has had a massive impact on our day-to-day lives in the past five, ten, and even fifteen years. Five years ago, the idea of Snapchat with all of the different filters was barely heard of. Ten years ago, you could not like and follow people on Instagram. Even fifteen years ago, the idea of sending a Tweet or adding someone on Facebook was a foreign concept. Now, everywhere you go, people are chained to their phones. Everyone has social media and if you do not, society looks at you like an alien. Social media has always been a popular way to keep in touch with others around the world, share memes, and post photos of your vacation; but more recently social media has played a huge role in the news and politics.

News in the United States[edit | edit source]

In 2015, Digital News Report ran a poll to see the effects of social media. About 63% of Facebook users in their sample use the site in a given week to read and share news, compared to 57% in 2014. Most of their poll came from 18-24s, the biggest growing networks being Instagram and Snapchat. Snapchat came out with a new device called Snapchat Discover in 2015, now brands like Vice and CNN are using the app to reach younger generations. One of the biggest social media platforms that 18-24s go to for breaking news is Twitter. Twitter was launched in March 2006, and since then they have gained 974 million accounts. While Twitter is known for being a social media site full of funny accounts and videos, it is also seen as a resource for news, while Facebook users say they ran into news sources while doing other things online. In the United States in 2015, 28% of social media users followed or subscribed to a politician or a political party, in other countries, that number is about 5%. Twitter and Facebook have become two of the most popular social media sites for news. 63% of users on both sites now claim that they use the sites to stay up to date on news stories, instead of just catching up with friends and family. Twitter has become a site more for breaking news, with retweets and there new discover tab on the site. Both sites have started to change to keep users up to date on breaking stories. In 2015, Twitter stated they were working on a new feature called Project Lighting which will allow anyone, Twitter user or not, to view a string of tweets, photos, and videos about live events. [24] Facebook, while not a popular source for breaking news, has installed the ‘Trending” sidebar as of June 2015, which allows users to see filtered popular topics in their area and worldwide. [25]

Because of the new wave of social media and how they are starting to focus more on politics, there have been 5,000 new digital media jobs created as of 2014. Social media is highly used to engage the audience nowadays, with ads and sponsored pictures on Instagram, it’s no surprise that news channels such as BBC, CNN, or Fox have turned their main focus on going digital. 64% of American adults have a Facebook account, and about half of those Americans claim to get their news information from the social media site. 73% of Facebook users claim to normally see entertainment news, though, rather than breaking news -- Twitter is known for being the site to go to for breaking news since everyone can tweet and retweet at the touch of a button to keep others updated. With the changing of social media, almost half of all users have shared news stories or videos, and almost half have discussed a story or an event. [26]

While news has become such a popular topic on social media, we also now have to deal with fake news or ‘click bait’ sites. Fake news has become as popular if not more popular than regular news sites such as BBC or CNN in the past years, but companies such as Google and Facebook have agreed to apply measures to slow fake news stories. The New York Times claims that one false story was shared almost 16,000 times on Twitter and over 350,000 times on Facebook. The problem is though, that some Facebook users love reading stories, even untrue ones, which confirm their personal political viewpoints. “That presents conflict for Facebook because then you have the option to either keep pleasing people by feeding them fake and misleading stories or try to fulfill some sort of democratic obligation to inform the public or to challenge people’s viewpoints” says Will Oremus, senior technology writer for Slate, “It’s not clear that it’s in their interests to do that. Facebook has become a dominant force in the news industry.” Is it still news if it isn’t true? Yes and no. While the stories aren’t true – or in the words of President Trump “fake news.” Right now, President Trump is under fire because he claims that former President Obama had tapped his phones. While this story is untrue, it becomes a story because Trump has begun to attack a former United States President. [27]


President Trump has been known for his presence on social media during the campaign and now his presidency – specifically, he has been known for his controversial tweets. President Trump has 5.5 million Twitter followers and 4.5 million likes on Facebook. After Trump’s comments about creating a Muslim ban, he dropped 12 percentage points in the polls but Trump still held 31 percent of the ratings, and had kept climbing since then during the election. “Trump is better at the Internet than anyone else in the Grand Old Party (GOP), which is partly why he is winning” said Dan Pfeiffer, former President Obama’s earlier digital and social media guru. While Trump may be good at social media, specifically Twitter, he is still a very easy target amongst users. President Trump doesn’t know who people are, and has tried many different techniques on the social media site such as the hashtag #AskTrump, which ended up backfiring. Another major issue with President Trumps tweeting is that he lies all of the time. He will claim that stories are “fake news”, blame his tweets on interns, or later delete tweets. This isn’t the first time Trump has lied though, another major example being the Bowling Green Massacre. [28]

One online group that does not approve of President Trump is Anonymous. Anonymous is a group of online Internet hackers who have been involved in many high profile cases, including but not limited to attacks on the government, major corporations, and religious groups. [29] Anonymous is not a set group and has no set goal except combating censorship and freedom of speech, and they are merely made up of anyone and everyone who wants to join to get their message out to the world. When Donald Trump had found out he had won the presidential race, Anonymous turned to their Twitter followers, urging them to release and find out any compromising information on Trump that they could; they first declared war on Trump back in 2015, when he announced that he was running for President. [30]

News in the United Kingdom[edit | edit source]

The growth of social media in recent years has not only had major effects in the United States, It has also played a major role in the development of modern day Britain. Similarly to the US, according to ThinkDigitalFirst[31], with an average population of 64.1 million, 89% of this population was classified as an active internet user. It was also stated that 38 million people are currently using social media, with a further 50% of the population using their mobile devices in order to access social media. This is a significant rise, as since January 2014, the UK has experienced a 4% growth in internet users in general, with a 6% increase in the amount of social media users, and finally a 7% rise in the number of people accessing social media through their mobile phones. This number is only going to continue to rise, as more than 56% of adults that are online are using more than one form of social media. The most popular branch of social media in the UK today is still Facebook, after its launch in 2004, it has continued to grow every year due to its ability to adapt and add new interesting features that appeal to the younger generation. In 2016, according to statistics, there was 32 million users from the UK, out of the 38 million people that were using social media, this is a significant amount. The popular instant messaging app called Whatsapp is the only social media service that has more traffic per day than Facebook.

Throughout 2016, major social media services such as Twitter and Snapchat have added features to the app that allow users to have faster access to breaking news stories. One of these was Twitters update that introduced "moments". This is a slideshow type presentation of the most read tweets regarding a news story. Personally, I think this is very good as it enables the users to not just read the news stories, but contribute to the discussion by tweeting about it and interacting with other users interested in the same topic. Another reason why breaking news has never before been so accessible is because of a recent iPhone update (mid 2016) which saw a new interface design. This meant that without even unlocking the iPhone, the user is able to simply swipe right, and instantly view the top news stories in their location.

As a result in these advancements and accessibility into news, there has been an extensive change in political activity. In an exclusive study conducted by DEMOS[32], it found that approximately 20% of adult social media users found that they had a greater platform in order to express their political views and opinions. Also, another 23% of users agreed that social media helps to understand a political parties ideologies ahead of elections, and 26% of users said that as a result of social media helping them understand politics better, they were more likely to vote. Traditionally in the UK, the people least likely to vote are young people, or first time voters. They do not feel comfortable voting as in many cases, they simply do not know enough about what they are voting on. This has changed in recent years however, and a lot of this is down to the significant rises in political discussion on social media. These findings highlight the impact that the recent changes on social media actually have in helping to create a better UK.

Glossary[edit | edit source]

Citizen Journalism - Public Citizens who play an active role in the dissemination, and analysis of the news online

Cookies A text file that is saved when you visit a website, they can be stored temporarily or permanently. They can be used by websites to track individuals online footprint.

Dataveillance This is the act of monitoring online activity and personal information via the web.

Digital Footprint The online information that is left behind by people due to their internet history.

References[edit | edit source]

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