Facebook is a media platform that focuses mainly on social networking. It is a strong and continuously developing platform. Some would say that there is no life without Facebook and that is because it is a heavily used platform. By being often exposed to the platform comes in mind the question What damage or influence can this platform do to its users? Facebook can be reached almost anywhere and is available for almost everyone (expect the places where is banned but even there methods to go to Facebook exist).
Because of that and because of other reasons a generation called Millennials came into discussion. The generation that is made of digital natives relies heavily on Facebook as a platform for anything from news to games to interaction. And people (researchers, politicians and other group of people) are interested in this generation born between 1980 and 2000s. Firstly because this is the actual generation that can vote and the generation that currently influences decisions and that holds a great number of positions in the society.
I believe that Facebook and the exposure to Facebook can heavily influence your decision and your thoughts and also the way you perceive the world. A recent study done in 2015 by report from the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research revealed that 88% of people use Facebook as a news source. That basically means that any angle taken by someone publishing a news story on Facebook exposes at least those 88% to the particular angle of that story and for some people that is enough.
Of course it all comes down to what sources you chose to follow, mainly. But not entirely because you can see shared news and content by the people you are friends with or from the people you follow. So on this platform you can be exposed to anything that can influence you in a certain way and make you take a position or a decision regarding that content. Either that you are not interested and you chose not to look further besides the title (meaning not accessing the external link) or going further and exposing yourself to the whole position or at least a part of it.
And Millennials (and not only) can be influenced in political ways as well because of the content they see about politicians or by simply following the politicians on Facebook. There are special movements created by politicians that target Facebook users. That happened in Romanian in the last presidential campaign where the 2 main candidates Klaus Iohannis and Victor Ponta spread Facebook messages on their Facebook pages and where other supporters clearly stated their views upon the matter. In the media there have been news regarding who is going to win in the page likes competition. Klaus Iohannis won the Facebook competition and won the presidency as well.
And it is not only Millennials as a generation that is influenced and that can influence the trends on Facebook. Media content producers are also influenced by Facebook and that by their chose of sourcing influence millennials. So it is not only politicians and researchers and people who want to promote something that do not tell the whole truth. Journalists don’t always tell the whole truth as well. A 2014 study impact on Social Media conducted by ING revealed that Journalists (60%) said they feel less bound by journalistic rules on social media than with traditional media such as a newspaper article. They act differently on social media than in traditional media, sharing their personal opinion more openly on social media, despite the fact that journalists are seen as being objective and reporters of news facts relating to events of general importance.
So again even journalists have their influence on users and instead of doing fact checking (revealed by the same study) they do more crowd checking.
Further on I would like to go on and reveal how easy you can influence views on Facebook and how easy is to create a campaign on Facebook by doing something pretty simple, creating a profile. This has been done by me and my colleagues in another course called Alternative Media and we have created Marta Crucian an orthodox religious extremist. We have gathered over 1000 friends in 2 weeks and shared many ideas of religious extremism like messages against homosexuality, public breastfeeding and no sex before marriage. Besides this we also talked with some of our online friends and got some paper acts that stated the desire to change the calendar from the new calendar to the old one and many other interesting discussions. Since I believe that photos can state more than words I am going to attach some photos from this profile. (These photos are of the profile we created, unfortunately they are in romanian)
These are only a few images from our campaign the rest I will show in the actual presentation since I believe it is more relevant and could lead to more discussions.
On the other hand, Facebook is a developing platform and the truth is that anyone has the choice to be exposed to Facebook and the content shared on it. Also has the freeway to think and analyze/ criticize the content shared on Facebook. Facebook as a platform can’t truly influence your views but its users can.
To conclude I would like to say that everyone has its right to share content on this platform and anyone is free to at least try to influence people on this platform in any way they want. From politicians to simple people because I believe that Facebook is a different universe in which the rules of reality don’t always apply. My suggestion for anyone using the platform in any kind of way is wash your face before use and after use so you could at least see that in everything there is a little bit of blur.