Social Networking Sites

Topics: Facebook, Social network service, Sociology Pages: 33 (8019 words) Published: December 4, 2012
Using Social Media to
Tackle Intolerance
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) is running an experimental action research pilot project, funded by Open Society Foundations (OSF), which seeks to understand the potential impact of social media on attitudes and intolerance in Europe. This literature review has been produced to summarise existing knowledge on the role of social media in influencing social attitudes, particularly in relation to inter-group dynamics. Published in April 2012, this review also includes a number of recent case studies from the social media and campaigning sector. © Institute for Strategic Dialogue, 2012. The Institute is registered with the Charity Commission as Trialogue Educational Trust, Charity No. 1076660.

What is social media?
There is a little doubt that any organization
aiming to shape or challenge the way that people
behave and think needs to attend to the
possibilities created by what we tend to refer to
as “social media”, as it plays an ever-more
central role in our everyday lives (Rainie et al,
2006). The term itself can be a confused one,
sometimes used as a synonym for social
networks, but really encompassing a wider group
of applications that aim to change the way that
people interact with online content and, by
association, with one another.
One common definition – found appropriately,
amongst other places, on the knowledge-sharing
site Wikipedia - is offered by Andreas Kaplan
and Michael Haenlein who define it as, "a group Using Social Media to Tackle Intolerance | Literature Review 2
Institute for Strategic Dialogue | Literature Review
of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow
the creation and exchange of user-generated content”
(Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). In other words,
social media has been integral to changing the
internet from a space which was in large part
about transmission or broadcast of information,
to a place where most users are involved in
generating their own content (whether short
films on You Tube or Facebook status updates),
and signposting their networks to content
created by others (through tools like Digg, for
instance). (Beer, 2008; Thelwell, 2009). For a
more detailed list of social media sites, see
Appendix 1.
As a result, the category of social media can be
extremely broad and includes subcategories,
such as:
1. Social networks (related to the internet –
this term is also sociologically significant
beyond the internet): focused on
establishing social ties between individuals
online, often drawing on pre-existing offline
social ties as an initial foundation. Obvious
examples include Facebook, Twitter,
LinkedIn and MySpace.
2. Content-sharing sites: where content
produced by both professional and
amateurs can be viewed, rated and discussed
–YouTube and Flickr, for instance.
3. Content-ranking tools: where individuals
signpost other users of the platform to
content they think is especially worth
attention. It includes sites like Digg, which
create individual profiles based on what a
particular person “Diggs”, but also
aggregates the data to create a sense of the
web according to Digg users.
4. Geo-location tools: give users the
opportunity to share their physical location
with other users often with a view to
potentially meeting up in person. For
instance, Foursquare.
The four categories identified here are not
sufficient for characterizing the full gamut of
social media. First, there will be social media
innovations which fall outside these three broad
categories – they cannot be exhaustive. Second,
there is a degree of overlap between the
different functions identified above. Facebook,
for instance, increasingly concentrates on
making non-Facebook content easy to share
within the...
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