By Mary McNamara
Los Angeles Times
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As columnist Mary McNamara so deftly points out, “Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are as powerful and divisive and reliant on audience-drawing controversy as any 24-hour cable news network.”
Los Angeles Times
When a racist tweet by Roseanne Barr leads to the cancellation of her top-rated show 24 hours later, when YouTube tightens its monetization policy to howls of protest, when Snapchat prepares to expand into India, when Vogue offers tips on how to perfectly Instagram your wedding, when Facebook ditches “trending news” while testing a “breaking news” feature, it’s time to reconsider the term “social media.”
Post-congressional hearing, Facebook did its best to revive the “social” brand, launching a cloying ad campaign that pledges to return us to a simpler time when “friends” were actually friends and accounts weren’t being harvested for information used to influence the 2016 presidential election. But all the prayer hand emojis in the world can’t change one simple fact: Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are as powerful and divisive and reliant on audience-drawing controversy as any 24-hour cable news network.
“Social,” with its connotations of community gatherings involving ice cream or strawberries, has got nothing to do with it.
So all those thumb-drumming into various phone apps to express their hatred of the “mainstream media” have joined rather than beaten their perceived foe. Social platforms are the new mainstream media, #NMM.
Indeed, considering the manner in which our president announces policy decisions and White House personnel changes, Twitter has effectively become a member of the White House press corps.
Even more than their predecessors, the new mainstream media are fueled by an arms race for followers (and should we have been more concerned when “readers” and “viewers” were replaced by the more cultlike term “followers”?), reposts and response rate.