Media Friend Or Foe Essay Definition

Here's a sentence that Robert Thomson, the editor of the Wall Street Journal, has not said: "Facebook argues they drive traffic to sites, but the whole Facebook sensibility is inimical to traditional brand loyalty … Facebook encourages promiscuity [in viewing different news sites] – and shamelessly so – and therefore a significant proportion of their users don't necessarily associate that content with the creator."

And here's something Rupert Murdoch has never said: "We are going to stop people like Facebook or whoever from taking stories for nothing … There is a law of copyright and they recognise it … Some sites have tapped into a river of gold [by aggregating content] … They take [news content] for nothing. They have got this very clever business model."

But if you replace "Facebook" with "Google" or "Google News" in both quotes, they're absolutely what they said (Thomson to the Australian and Murdoch at a press event in the US).

Here's the strange thing, though: Facebook sends far more traffic to News International sites in the UK than Google News does, according to figures from Experian Hitwise, which monitors web browsers' (though not mobile users') surfing habits. Google's news aggregator service is the bete noire of Wapping and other traditional media outlets because it gives readers an instant hit without necessarily providing any traffic and hence advertising revenues.

In fact figures from the data collection service show that for all news and media sites, Google News UK generates just 0.67% of traffic – while Facebook generates precisely 10 times as much at 6.7%. Having 450 million-odd users worldwide, with friends linked across continents, turns out to have its benefits. At least for Facebook.

So is this another demonstration of News International's chiefs not "getting it"? Should their web teams be showing them lists of referrers, and exploring a new Facebook-bashing strategy? After all, the row over privacy settings has put the site at bay. Should Thomson do a quick find-and-replace on those Google-bashing speeches, and capitalise on the antipathy towards Facebook?

Perhaps not yet. One caveat offered by Robin Goad, the research director at Experian Hitwise, is that the above figures fail to reflect the importance of Google search in driving traffic to news sites rather than Google News.

He says: "The thing is, are people coming to read news stories via Google News, or via search in Google? If people click on a news story in the main Google home page – which can happen, because news is now included in the 'universal search' results you get when you do a search – rather than from the Google News page, then we see that as a click from Google."

That does alter the picture: Google UK (the default for UK users) ranks much higher than Facebook on those measures: it is the "upstream" , or previous, site for 21.9% of clicks to news and media sites, compared to 6.72% for Facebook.

"I think that the majority does actually come from the Google home page," Goad says. But that doesn't mean we should overlook Facebook. "It is a big and growing source of traffic, though people don't talk about it. They talk about other things – Twitter, for instance." So could Facebook soon find itself referred to as a parasite, as Thomson spoke of Google? "They don't yet," says Goad. "But maybe when they realise how much traffic it represents, they will." Where Google News has a sentence that tells you what the story is, Goad notes: "Facebook often has the first paragraph, so they're stealing – if you want to use that word – more of the content."

But Paul Bradshaw, a reader in online journalism at Birmingham City University, thinks the lack of vituperation about Facebook has different reasons. "Firstly, this isn't about content, or readers – this is about advertising. Google utterly dominates the online advertising market, and is therefore easily Murdoch's biggest competitor, and therefore biggest target. Murdoch knows the message should be simple and endlessly repeated. If you start attacking Google, keep attacking Google – don't muddy the message by changing tack.

"Secondly, Google is enormously wealthy – much wealthier than Facebook. The gamble here is that Google might just throw Murdoch a bone to shut up. Or that a government or two might decide to tax those enormous revenues and – even better – prop up the established news organisations with the proceeds.

"But finally, there probably is a fundamental lack of understanding by Murdoch. He sees his content appearing on Google and thinks it's being stolen rather than referenced. The mooted move [of News International content] out of [the news archive database] LexisNexis suggests this is isn't just about Google."

In fact there's an era ahead in which news organisations will have to get to grips with social media and its implications for their traffic and readership, Bradshaw says.

He remarks: "I think social media traffic is underestimated because it's a relatively recent phenomenon – it's taken years for people to realise how important Google was. SEO [search engine optimisation] is still only now entering mainstream journalistic processes and systems and it will take another five years before social media optimisation is also part of the furniture. Also, social media importance varies enormously from site to site, whereas Google's impact is relatively consistent."

There's another reason why the importance of social media traffic may be underestimated. Twitter is an interesting example of how social media is making it harder for news executives to know just where their traffic is coming from. For example, if you look at the data for pretty much any news website, incoming referrals from Twitter.com will likely figure in the top 10.

However, that number significantly underestimates the importance of Twitter to readership – because 75% of Twitter traffic doesn't actually come via twitter.com; instead, it comes from people clicking in Twitter applications such as Tweetdeck, which use the site's API (application programming interface) to access its database. If you click on a link in a Twitter feed on Tweetdeck, it won't show up as a twitter.com referral.

Facebook, however, is the new elephant in the online newsroom. It's the fast-growing social network and attracts far less attention than its far smaller rivals such as Twitter. And it is the users, not the site, who grab chunks of content to link to. "The majority comes from people posting it around the site, rather like YouTube videos – so it's driven by Facebook's users, not Facebook itself," says Goad.

By contrast, he points out: "Google only presents that data when you go through to search on something, so if you search for 'David Cameron' you'll see results which include those news stories." Facebook is thus more of an exercise in news serendipity, depending on your circle of friends, than Google's directed attempt to organise the world's information.

And if news executives are rubbing their hands, even as they mentally reclassify Facebook from being unimportant to being the next Google to being their new best friend because of its traffic-driving potential, there's some dispiriting news: social media sites tend to display much shorter attention spans over any story than news organisations do. Those findings, from the Pew Research Centre's report New Media, Old Media, show that consumers don't stick long on any site, and social media doesn't linger for any period on any story: a three-day lifespan is all that 53% of stories can expect.

Bradshaw thinks that we'll simply have to adjust to it. The introduction last month of Facebook's "Like" system, which any site can adopt with a couple of lines of code, so that signed-in users of Facebook will be able to recommend the page to their online friends, could have far-reaching consequences, he says. "It has enormous potential. This isn't just another Digg button. Firstly, there's the enormous difference in user base. But more importantly, it demonstrates a level of engagement that can be sold to advertisers.

"I've said previously that the next big battleground for media organisations will be identity – and I can see the Like button being a site for that battle. Unlike the big spikes of 'window shoppers' that Digg generates, Facebook can attract a long tail of users with demonstrable value." Advertisers have long recognised the value of word of mouth recommendations for building brand loyalty. However, Bradshaw concedes there is scope for development on the Like button. "There's a whole infrastructure to be built around it to make it measurable and meaningful to advertisers."

Facebook, then, is likely to become more important in news organisations' plans. Unless, of course, something else comes along to overturn it. Best not to cling to that idea, though. No site has ever been as big as Facebook – not even MySpace. And who owns that?

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We’re all guilty of it—purposely posting misleading photos and statuses to portray a certain image of ourselves in the social media world.

With the rise of filters, photo apps and Photoshop, it’s hard to discriminate between what is real life and what’s intended to create a certain impression on Facebook or Instagram.

Social media has changed our world—for better and for worse. Never has it been so easy to keep in touch with family, friends and acquaintances without wasting a whole lot of time on the phone for an hour just to find out what they’ve been up to.

Instead, we can know everything about them in one click and a few minutes of scrolling—what and where they ate this weekend, who they spent time with, how they’re feeling, how big their kids are getting and even what their vacation plans may be for the holidays. “Just booked my trip to Hawaii! Mai Tais with Santa!” (Actual Facebook post from a friend of mine yesterday.)

Personally, as someone who lives 3000 miles away from my entire family and a large chunk of my childhood friends, I bow down to social media. I am able to keep in touch with everyone I’ve ever known through this revolutionary new world and I take full advantage of that.

But what bothers me is watching how completely paranoid, insecure and bat shit crazy some of my friends get over some of the social media games we’re all playing.

I watched a friend of mine obsess over one guy’s daily additions of new female friends. She managed to create an entire story in her head about what his motivations and intentions were behind this move: he’s a “flirt,” he’s “feeding his ego,” he’s playing mind games, he’s trying to make her jealous.

Truth be told, I’m pretty sure he was just accepting friend requests as they came in and not giving it a second thought.

I’ve watched other friends post cute selfies of themselves and then end up disappointed at the lack of “likes” they have gotten. Or worse yet, if someone in particular that they were hoping to impress with their cute selfie didn’t take the time to hit the “like” button.

Another friend was downright livid that someone she had a crush on was “liking” a bunch of other girl’s photos and status updates and ignoring hers.

Truth be told, it’s really sad to think about the effect social media has on all of us.

Social Media and Relationships.

I have actually lost count of how many relationships have broken up over discoveries on Facebook. The great thing about social media is you can instantly chat, message and post pictures of what you did last night in an instant.

The downside of social media: your chats, messages and photos of what you did last night can get you in a whole lot of trouble.

I have seven friends in the last two years alone, whose relationships ended because they discovered their spouses or partners were cheating on them through social media. Gone are the days where people would just sneak off to a hotel room and the only way of getting caught was if someone saw them.

Today, all you need to do is forget to log out of your account. Or have someone accidentally tag you in a picture with someone or somewhere you never told your spouse you were going to be. Or your location shows up on their phone when you’ve told them you are somewhere else.

Affairs are pretty much a lost cause these days with the internet. If you’re having an affair, most likely you’re going to get caught through social media.

Is What We See Real?

Yes, a lot of what we see and read about our friends and family on Facebook is very real. And beautiful. And heartwarming.

I love seeing pictures of my nieces and nephews running on the beach together with the seagulls following their laughter in the background. I smile and feel a part of birthday parties and weddings that I can’t be at when I scroll through an album a friend of mine posted of the event.

I laugh and often share with my own children videos of funny moments my friend’s post of their children doing something silly.

But don’t compare your life with someone else’s based on what you see them post.

We all have joyful and challenging moments in our lives. What we choose to share is often the good stuff. The stuff that makes us look good, that makes our lives look put together and exciting. The stuff that paints us in a good light.

We don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors—or open laptops.

We don’t know if someone is fighting depression.

If a marriage is crumbling. If someone’s child is being bullied at school.

If the girl you like actually likes the guy whose wall she just wrote on.

So, let’s stop making up stories based on what someone is doing on Facebook.

Instead what we can do is use Facebook for what it’s intended—keeping in touch with people we don’t often see, giving us something to do when we stand in line at the grocery store and brainstorming on the next great selfie we’re going to take.

It’s all in good fun—if we use it that way.

Relephant: 

Please Don’t Envy Me: The Facebook Status Everyone Should Read.

Author: Dina Strada

Assistant Editor: Hilda Carroll/Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Garry Knight/Flickr

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About dmstrada

Dina Strada is an L.A. based Event Planner, Author, and Certified Life Coach specializing in relationships and empowering women. She has most recently been featured as a Contributing Author in the powerful new book, "Simply Women: Stories from 30 Magnificent Women Who Have Risen Against the Odds".

Dina leads Empowerment Workshops that deep-dive into the topics she writes about. She walks her talk and inspires others through her willingness to be vulnerable, raw and real. A former featured author and top writer for elephant journal, her work has also appeared in multiple online publications including Huff Post, Thought Catalogue, Elite Daily, The Good Men Project, Chopra, Simply Women, Rebelle Society, Tiny Buddha and the Manifestation Station. Connect with Dina on her website or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

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