Now more than ever, we need to understand social media - the good as well as the bad. We need critical knowledge that helps us to navigate the controversies and contradictions of this complex digital media landscape. Only then can we make informed judgements about what's happening in our media world, and why.

Showing the reader how to ask the right kinds of questions about social media, Christian Fuchs takes us on a journey across social media, delving deep into case studies on Google, Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks and Wikipedia. The result lays bare the structures and power relations at the heart of our media landscape.

This book is the essential, critical guide for all students of media studies and sociology. Readers will never look at social media the same way again.

What Is Social Media?

What is social media?

Key Questions

  • What does it mean to besocial?
  • What kinds of social theories exist?
  • How can social theory help us to understand what is social about social media?
  • How social is the web?

Key Concepts

  • Internet
  • Social media
  • Web 1.0
  • Web 2.0
  • Web 3.0
  • Émil Durkheim's notion of social facts
  • Max Weber's notions of social action and social relations
  • Ferdinand Tönnies' concept of community
  • Karl Marx's concept of co-operative work


This chapter introduces how one can think about social media. You will engage with the question: What is social about social media? One of the first reactions that many people have when hearing the term “social media” is to ask: “Aren't all media social?” This depends on how one conceives the social. In order to understand the meanings of this term, we need ...

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