Social Media

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    • 00:10

      FABIO ROJAS: FABIO ROJAS name is Fabio Rojas.[ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, INDIANA UNIVERSITY]I teach sociology at Indiana University,and in this tutorial, we're goingto talk about social media and why sociologists thinksocial media is interesting.For centuries, the mass media such as newspapers, radio,and other forms of publishing, have beendominated by professionals.

    • 00:32

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: If you picked up the New York Times 10 or 20 years ago,it would almost certainly be editedby professional journalists, the articleswould be selected from a large poolby an editor who would decide what you could readand what ended up on the cutting-room floor.Social media has completely changed this dynamic.

    • 00:52

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: For the first time in human history,somebody write an article or produce a movie or filmthat could be instantly transmittedto millions of people.This was not possible 10 or 15 years ago, but is now normal.This kind of online communication,where people can produce their own contentand quickly spread it throughout the population,

    • 01:15

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: is called social media.There are many examples of social mediathat you might already be familiar with,such as Facebook and Twitter.Reddit is a website where people canwrite about any topic they want and havediscussions with each other in comment threads.Instagram is a form of social mediawhere people can take photographs, load themonto a website, and other people can

    • 01:36

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: tag them and talk about them.Recently, we have new kinds of social mediasuch as Yik Yak, which is a website that allows peopleto anonymously comment about the eventswithin a certain geographical area.For example, in this room it's quite possiblethat a cameraman is using Yik Yak right nowand talking about me.That is an anonymous form of social media.

    • 01:60

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: So before we get into the social science of social media,I want to talk a little bit about the different kindsof social media that we have, how are they different--how is Facebook different from Twitterand how is Twitter different from Instagram?Well, generally when we think about social mediathere are two ways that we sort them.Number one is we sort them by content.

    • 02:21

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: For example, there are some forms of social mediathat allow for very extended expression.If you have a Facebook account you can write a 5,000-wordessay and post it to your website and all your friendscould read it.In contrast, other kinds of social media depend on brevity.For example, Twitter restricts all posts

    • 02:42

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: to 140 characters, the length of an average English sentence.Then there are websites that allow you to createmusic, video, and photography.An early form of social media was called Myspace,and that became very popular among musiciansbecause they could upload videos and it

    • 03:02

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: made it very easy for musicians to talkabout what was new in music.In addition to different types of content,social media varies in terms of how anonymous people are.Perhaps the most public form of social mediais a website called LinkedIn.LinkedIn is a website used by the business world.If somebody would like to be known amongst their business

    • 03:25

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: colleagues, they create a small profile.For example, mine might say, "Fabio Rojas.I'm a professor of sociology at Indiana University."And the important thing about LinkedInis that it clearly is anchored in the real world.I'm not allowed to put a picture of a cat and say it's me.It's connected to my real-world identity as a teacher

    • 03:46

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: and as a social science researcher.Then at the other extreme you have some typesof social media such as Yik Yak where there is literallyno identity.Within the Yik Yak application there is no name.There is no identifying information.The only thing you know about other people whoare writing messages is that they're

    • 04:07

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: within a 400-yard radius of you talking about something.Then of course there's levels of variation.Twitter, for example, might be in the middle of that spectrum.People can volunteer information.You could stop a Twitter account with your real name thatlinks to a website that tells people about whoyou are professionally.

    • 04:28

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Then other people use Twitter to makejokes, to be funny, to harass people that they don't reallylike and so forth.So some people on Twitter are actually anonymous.So when we think about social media,one of the most important things that social media can dois provide an identity or to provide no identity at all.

    • 04:50

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: So in terms of content, social media is extremely diverse.Facebook and Twitter are text-based formsof social media, which are primarily about people writingmessages to each other and saying whether they like themor not.Instagram and Vine are social mediathat depend on short videos or images.

    • 05:11

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Flickr was another form of social mediawhere people could load their photographsand share them with their friends.So this shows you the great variationwe have in the types of content thatare available on social media.In terms of identity and anonymity,social media vary a great deal.

    • 05:33

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: The model of each type of social media is very different.So for example, if I would like to start a business,I usually want people to know who I am.I want people to know that I'm dependable,that if they buy a service or a goodfrom me that will be worth their while.If they want to complain to me, theycan come back and talk to me.

    • 05:54

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: If they want to hire me and pull mefrom one firm to another firm, they need accurate information.So LinkedIn is a form of social mediawhere people are connected with each other,but the connection is made possibleby the real-world identity.Facebook is a little bit different than LinkedIn.On Facebook they initially required people

    • 06:15

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: to use university addresses for their email.That ensured some level of connection to the real world.However, over time Facebook has allowed more anonymous usersor users with names that are clearly not related to anythingin the offline world.And for that reason, Facebook has moved a little bitaway from the LinkedIn model towards a more

    • 06:37

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: anonymous or mixed model of identity.[Identity and anonymity on Social Media - LinkedIn -strong identity Facebook - middle Yik Yak -complete anonymity]And Yik Yak.And other applications that are very newrepresent the other extreme.These kinds of applications assumethat people don't want their identity to be revealed.So for example, say you're at a sports gameand you just want to hear what other people in the stadium

    • 06:57

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: are saying about your favorite football or baseball team,you might go to the Yik Yak applicationand see what other people are saying about the gamethat you're watching.You may not be that interested in who they are personally,you just want to know about their general feeling.So there are a lot of social mediawhose business model actually leverages anonymityto create a special product.

    • 07:19

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: So why do sociologists care about social media?Isn't social media just filled with spam and cat videos?Actually, the opposite is true.Yes, there are cat videos and spam on social media,but it's also true that social media carries great value,and that's one of the reasons that social scientists care

    • 07:39

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: about this form of online communication.And social media is now a resourcethat people can use to make money, to find friends,and even to build political revolutions.Social media is also important because it is a democratizingforce in our culture.100 years ago, you might never see the senatorfrom your state.

    • 08:00

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Now you could send your senator a message directlyin real time, and that Senator or one of their staffmay answer you within a minute or two.There's been a great flattening of the social world.And then third, a lot of social scientistsare interested in using social media as a thermometerfor the real world.

    • 08:21

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: In other words, once you remove the spamand once you remove the funny cat videos,is there still information that istied to what's happening in the real flesh and blood world?[Economic, social, & political resource]Another reason the social media is important for sociologyis that it's an important resource.

    • 08:44

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: Let's look at an early form of social media called Myspace.Myspace was a website that was designed to let musicians postvideos, post mp3s, and other informationabout where they might have a concertor if you want to take a lesson with a musician.And very quickly Myspace became somethingof great economic value.

    • 09:05

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: It became a place where you could build a reputationas a musician.And similar things have happened in other forms of social media.For example, LinkedIn, which we've already discussed,many executives try to establish a reputation.If you are known as an executive or professional whois good in a certain task and you advertise this on LinkedIn,

    • 09:28

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: then that may increase your market value.There are other people who use itas a social or political resource.Perhaps the most famous one so faris the use of Facebook and Twitter by the Arab Spring.The Arab Spring was a wave of protests in 2011that toppled the governments of Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia.

    • 09:49

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: One of the most interesting thingsabout the social movement, aside from its wild success,is the tool that they used.Yes, they had traditional protests,but they also organized online.And the reason is that the governments of those countrieswere not keyed into social media yet.So they could meet on Facebook, they could meet in chat rooms,

    • 10:11

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: and they could plan and strategize and organizebefore the authorities ever realized what they were doing.So in certain cases social media canbe great for building reputation, economic value,and it can be used as a basis for political action.[Democratizing culture]

    • 10:32

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: So in terms democratizing culture,social media is extremely important.What social media does is it makes everybody a publisher.In the 1600s, when people invented the first printingpresses, they created machines thatweighed hundreds of pounds.To even print a pamphlet or book required a great dealof expertise.

    • 10:52

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: You had to take the typeset and the letters,you had to arrange them, and then you would press the book.It was a very expensive, difficult, and labor-intensiveprocess.But in the modern world of social media,anybody can write anything and haveit read by anyone at any time, and this results

    • 11:13

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: in a flattening out of our culture.So yes, there are still professional journalists,there are professional book editors,and no, they will not go away any time soon.However, they now exist in a much larger world.So if somebody writes an article for the New York Times,there may be a response on the blog,there may be a response on Facebook.

    • 11:34

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: And that creates a flattening out of the world.We no longer live in the world of mediawhere a few people at the top and everybody elselistens to them.We now live in a very circular, densely connected world,where somebody in Wyoming can talk to somebody in New Yorkand somebody in New York can talk to someone in Washington.Somebody in Washington can talk to somebody in Russia,

    • 11:54

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: and that Russian person could talk to that guy in Wyoming.We've created a very densely connected world.Still, even though the world is densely connected,there's still a great deal of inequality in this world,and it doesn't have to do with professional statussuch as being a journalist.It may have to do with which country you're in.For example, China has its own social media

    • 12:16

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that's separate from Twitter and Facebook and Googlebecause the government wants to maintain controlover the internet there.Even within Western countries we knowthat there's great differences in who uses social media,and this is very important for social scientists.We know, for example, that young people, unsurprisingly,are much more likely to be early adopters of social media.

    • 12:37

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: There have been debates by scholarsabout whether men and women use social media differently,and whether people of certain educational levelsare using social media more than others.So even though the world is much more flat,there's still inequality in it, and it'simportant for sociologists to study.

    • 12:60

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: A third reason that social scientistsare very interested in social mediais because it can be used as a thermometer.[Social Thermometer]You might think social media is frivolous,there are a lot of cat videos, spam,people making fun of each other, people wasting time,and so forth.And yes, that really does happen to a great deal

    • 13:21

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: on social media.But the same time, people are talkingabout real-world events.So for example, if I lose my job because of the recession,I might talk about it with my friends on Facebook.If I'm extremely happy that I got a raise at work,I talk about how happy I am.And for this reason social media is often

    • 13:42

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: believed to be a thermometer a real-world events.There have been a number of studiesthat show, for example, that discussions on Twitterare good predictors of box office receipts for movies.Why?Because if people are excited about a movie,they love the trailer, they love the actorswho are going to be in the movie,they're going to probably talk about it on Twitter.

    • 14:03

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: And if they talk about on Twitter,they're likely to buy a ticket a week or two later.Another famous study has to do with the stock market.In this study, researchers asked the question,does the overall happiness of people on Twittercorrelate with the stock market in general?

    • 14:24

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: And the theory is that the happier you are,the more likely you are to express your happinesson social media, and that should be linked with things thatmake you happy such as getting a raise,having a good stock portfolio, and generally enjoying wealth.And turns out the answer is yes.The overall mood on Twitter is a good indicator

    • 14:45

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: of where the stock market will move in a few days.In my own research, I became very interested in politics.Could we use social media data to build a thermometerof political events?To answer this question, my research teamcollected a database of over 500,000 tweets

    • 15:09

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that mentioned Republican or Democratic candidatesin the 2010 and 2012 congressional elections.So what we discovered is that for each congressionaldistrict, if a Democrat got talked about more on Twitterin comparison with the Republican opponent,that increased the chance they're

    • 15:29

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: going to get more votes than the Republican opponent on electionday.[More Tweets, More Votes]We call this the more tweets more votes results.In other words, what's happening isthat if you are about to win, thenpeople start talking about you, even your enemies.So this overall volume of noise about youbecause you're about to win is a good indicator

    • 15:52

      FABIO ROJAS [continued]: that a couple weeks from now peopleare going to come out to vote for you.And if you're going to lose, peoplestop paying attention to you.So the more that you win, the more peopletalk about, whether they love you or hate you.And if you're about to lose, people become silent.

Social Media

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Professor Fabio Rojas discusses social media and how it has changed mass communication. Before social media, mass media was edited and put together by professional journalists, but social media has changed that. Rojas discusses using social media as a resource in politics and economics, democratizing culture, and the social thermometer.

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Social Media

Professor Fabio Rojas discusses social media and how it has changed mass communication. Before social media, mass media was edited and put together by professional journalists, but social media has changed that. Rojas discusses using social media as a resource in politics and economics, democratizing culture, and the social thermometer.

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