Proposal Letter

Social media has created a more informed society, and nobody can argue that, but the issue we don’t take into account is if the information is accurate. Social media can be used to share national or even international news in a less than a minute after it occurs. An average spectator we can pull out a phone and upload to our social media account a message detailing it far faster than it would take a news crew to arrive and cover the scene. The issue we face with this increasingly fast civilian reporting is the integrity of their postings. The news articles found on social media web sites tend to lack the full perspective of a story, whereas a story presented on television or in the newspaper often has had time to fully understand a situation and gather all of the story to report on.

crazy-dude-cartoon     A good way to visualize the difference between these two things is by looking at wars versus battles. Let’s start by looking at World War II and the Siege of Warsaw in which Nazi Germany invaded Poland, and Poland surrendered Warsaw. If this were the only thing a spectator saw in regards to the war they might assume Germany won, but if we looked at the war as a whole, we can see they clearly did not. This is the same for politics, you may see that Trump won a certain state, but maybe he lost all of the other forty-nine states. Without context, many of the social media reporting is subject to bias and error.

The other side of this social media reporting in all has created a more informed society. Many young adults would generally not read the newspaper or watch the television broadcasts of the news stations, but being able to see the news on a media platform that they often use makes it more easily accessible. The ease of access that the social media platforms provide are a great way for people to stay in touch with what is going on in the world. The amount of Americans alone who get their news from sources such as Facebook and Twitter are growing each year. Studies done in 2015 show that of the American adult population, 66% use Facebook, and 41% of them get their news on Facebook. Not only are Americans using Facebook, but they’re also using Twitter. Twitter is a much smaller portion of the adult population, only 17%, but of that 17%, 10% receive their news from it as well. (Barthel, Shearer, Gottfried, Mitchell 2015) Although this seems like it’s increasing awareness in society and creating a more informed society, there are many issues that lie beneath it.

The first issue I’d like to bring up is the validity of the articles and civilian journalists. “Schmierbach and Oeldorf-Hirsch (2012) proposed that information posted by citizen journalists can be unclear for both Twitter and blogs because most citizen journalists write only for personal gratification so that most contents reflect a lack of professional aspirations.” (Zhuang, 2014) This being said, often times when a tweet is sent out or a Facebook post is made by someone regarding a news story, it contains information that isn’t reliable. This information is littered with bias and errors due to personal input. When you watch a television broadcast by a qualified news reporting company you do not need to take these things into account. Bias is just one of the many issues with civilian journalists, as Zhuang states, “citizen journalists lack credibility as they lack the essence and substance of real journalists. Privacy infringement, cyber-bullying, vituperation, and obscenity still appear in new media. Compared to professional journalists who play the role as good gatekeepers, citizen journalists are untrained; therefore, citizen journalists might not closely check information, and this could lead to many rumors, which may negatively affect society.” (Zhuang, 2014) News reporters are of vital importance due to their transparency with the stories they report on. They keep their bias absent from reporting and use facts from the story in order to depict an event rather than give their insight on it.

False articles are more likely to have quick witty titles such as, “You won’t believe how low gas prices are dropping in your area!” instead of “Gas prices drop to $1.95 a gallon.” These quick titles grab the attention of the reader incentivizing them to read it instead of other articles or posts. In the event that these articles get shared by a large population, we can see the “brainwashing” take place. “The phenomenon that information, even if it is unfounded, will probably be accepted if enough individuals repeatedly mentioned it. Also, people tend to change their thoughts or habits by taking advice from their friends.” (Zhou, 2015) This phenomena that Zhou outlines in his paper is one of the primary ways we see false information spread in social media.

Now that bias has been touched on, I’d like to look at the credibility of the source, one of the main reasons to avoid citizen journalists. Zhuang highlights five points to be the main criteria for a proper journalist, “accuracy, fairness, completeness, reliability, and trustworthiness.” These five things are like a checklist when looking at a potential candidate from whom you could receive news reports. Many Facebook and Twitter articles are either unreliable or just wrong altogether. Some specific examples of this include social media events from the Boston bombing in 2013. On April 15, 2013 a man was attending the Boston Marathon and set off a bomb near the finish line. Many photos came from this catastrophe, and as a result many false stories did too. One of the most widespread of these false stories was of a man kneeling down next to a woman, and the story suggested that he was a runner in the race, planning to propose to his wife after crossing the finishing line, yet the entire story was false and the man had no connection to the woman. (Gross, 2013) The use of social media clearly opens up outlets to media sources that lack credibility in the area of new reporting. Many less accomplished news companies utilize the social networks as a shot at a larger audience for their stories. These stories are often supplemented by first hand recordings which can create many issues which inaccuracies due to contextual loss.

Although the only issues highlighted previously have been negative, there are positive factors to having information spread in such a rapid manner on social media websites. One of the largest things that social media remedies is the strict distinctions in the medium between newspapers, radios, and televisions. “For example, newspapers can only carry text and photo while radio can only carry audio. The Internet, however, has blurred these distinctions, since a website can carry text, visuals and audio at the same time.” (Swasy, 2015) Swasy describes that the internet has captured the ability to use all mediums effectively and efficiently. The ability to reach out to a reader or viewer by capturing their attention through multiple mediums increases the likelihood of people interacting with it. This is important as more people begin to phase out products like newspapers and traditional television cable packages, the need to remain informed using their daily outlets changes. Year to year, newspaper revenue, from 2003 to 2013 it has dropped over 50% (Barthel, 2015) and of the newspaper revenue still being made, the ratio of digital to retail has only been increasing in favor of the digital users. It is no real news that news reporting is quickly moving to the new mediums such as Facebook and Twitter, or are at least using it to supplement their routine broadcasting schedule.

As a secondary support to news reporting on social media outlets, studies have shown that even when watching television, an individual with a phone or tablet is more likely to be moving their focus to their secondary screen. (Kätsyri, 2016) This further supports news reporting in social web spaces as it inherently gives it a wider exposure.

My proposal to the issue within social media news reporting is one that falls in line with Twitter’s recent 2015 implimentation, “Project Lightning.” While social media is a place to represent your opinion with your voice, it should also be a place in which you can turn to for reliable news, and with that it needs sanctioned news reporting. Twitter’s Project Lightning was “a feed of tweets, images and videos about live events as they happen, curated by a bevy of new employees with ‘newsroom experience.’” (Barthel, 2015) This is a good start, but the idea needs to be put across all platforms. Implementing this into Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets are a good step in the right direction in order to spread accurate, reliable news in a quick manner. This can easily be done by common news reporting outlets such as CNN and NBC. With a little cooperation from departments within the news groups and the social media outlets, this could be achieved.

One of the issues presented here is the validity of the articles or stories posted on social media considering the fact that “a significant proportion of social media users share links to news stories,” (Bright, 2016) there would need to be a way to distinguish which of these are credible or reliable. Looking at Twitter again for some inspiration on the matter, they’ve got a system that has been around or quite some time, the idea of a “verified” user. Twitter defines a verified user as such: “Twitter verifies accounts on an ongoing basis to make it easier for users to find who they’re looking for. We concentrate on highly sought users in music, acting, fashion, government, politics, religion, journalism, media, sports, business and other key interest areas. We are constantly updating our requirements for verification. Note, verification does not factor in follower count or Tweet count.” (Twitter, 2016) By implementing a similar system we can allow a user to easily see if the source of an article is a verified account. In the case of Twitter, if we narrowed down the verification to specific groups, allowing a “verified news account” to be added, then you could be certain you’re retrieving information that is qualified and accurate. By providing this feature it’s possible to hit Zhuang’s five item list for reliable news reporting: accuracy, fairness, completeness, reliability, and trustworthiness. Not only does this method of “verified accounts” seek to solve the reliability issue we have with news sources on social media outlets, it also helps deal with the “brainwashing” effect that could happen with the widespread false information as.

It is clear that in the current day an age, information moves fast. It’s difficult to determine on your own whether or not a news crew is reliable on the fly. By implementing these simple additions to the social media outlets used by the masses, we can quickly start creating an informed society that is not taught through Buzzfeed. Accurately portraying information and news on a national and even international level is something that should not be overlooked. Reliable news should be available to everyone, and with these minor changes I think it’s possible to stop the spread of false information through civilian journalists without silencing their voices. While I feel extremely passionate about keeping accurate information available, it is important to note that the internet and social forums are a place for speaking your views and opinions, but there needs to be a way to distinguish an opinionated source from one that is valid and credible, such as an article from a verified account.



Barthel, Michael. “Newspapers: Fact Sheet.” Pew Research Centers Journalism Project RSS. Pew Research Center, 29 Apr. 2015. Web. 13 June 2016.

Bright, Jonathan. “The Social News Gap: How News Reading And News Sharing Diverge.” Journal Of Communication 66.3 (2016): 343-365. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 June 2016.

Greenwood, Shannon. “One-in-Ten U.S. Adults Get News on Twitter, While About Four-in-Ten Get News on Facebook.” Pew Research Centers Journalism Project RSS. N.p., 10 July 2015. Web. 12 June 2016.

Gross, Doug. “5 Viral Stories about Boston Attacks That Aren’t True.” CNN. Cable News Network, 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 13 June 2016.

Jiaqi. “Just Internet Things.” Welcome to the Fifth Estate ~. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 June 2016.

Kätsyri, Jari, et al. “Negativity Bias In Media Multitasking: The Effects Of Negative Social Media Messages On Attention To Television News Broadcasts.” Plos ONE 11.5 (2016): 1-21. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 June 2016.

Swasy, Alecia, et al. “Traditional Reporting More Credible Than Citizen News.” Newspaper Research Journal 36.2 (2015): 225-236. Academic Search Complete. Web. 16 June 2016.

Twitter. “FAQs about Verified Accounts.” Twitter Help Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2016.

Zhou, Cangqi, Qianchuan Zhao, and Wenbo Lu. “Impact Of Repeated Exposures On Information Spreading In Social Networks.” Plos ONE 10.10 (2015): 1-21. Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 June 2016.

Zhuang, Ziqi. “The Importance Of Citizen Journalists In New Media When Reporting On Catastrophes.” Global Studies Journal 7.3 (2014): 21-39. Academic Search Complete. Web. 14 June 2016.



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Op-Ed Paper Revision

Every good breakfast includes two tweets, one big Facebook post, and a series of Instagram likes to get the day started. A nice breakfast is healthy, right? Not forgetting the other two meals, filled with even more Facebook posts and Instagram likes. Typically in my morning and throughout the day, I’ll have browsed my social media accounts until every time I come back to them, I groan at the fact that there’s no new content. Social media has become such an engrained part of every young adult’s life that it’s pushing away actual social interaction in everyday life. The painful reality of this is it’s something that will become more and more prevalent in each coming generation.

Social Media Addiction     Looking at some statistics of just how many people are using Facebook alone, we have 1.09 billion daily active users and 1.65 billion monthly active users as of March 31 2016. (Facebook Newsroom, 2016) Just daily, one seventh of the world’s population is using Facebook. Addiction is a strong word, although it is a very fitting word to describe the effect that is taking over in social media. There are many different issues that can arise from addiction to these sites, some of the most unexpected can be anxiety and sleep issues. Sites like Facebook are designed to reel in the user like that little notification button. The button is bait, much like the slew of clickbait titles you see on your favorite social media apps. The notification button gives a feeling of attention, one that users have grown addicted to, they like the feeling of involvement that come along with it. Constantly logging in to check whether or not there is a little 1, 2, or 3 by your notification symbol is a common daily activity among users of the mobile Facebook app and if done more than 2-4 times a day may lead to signs of addiction. Looking past the notification button, the articles posted on Facebook alone have qualities that are meant to pull in users. Titles such as “Gas prices down to $1.90 a gallon” are replaced with “You won’t believe how low gas prices are dropping in your area!” These types of articles are designed to have readers read the article, and then be pulled into another article in the section of articles labelled, “related articles.” These related articles are click-baits to keep the reader involved with the events online rather than that of the things going on in their personal life.

One study that took place in 2013 for the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey noted that, “The researchers found that these heavy social media users were more likely to report having poor mental health, psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression), suicidal thoughts and unmet mental health needs.” (Gregoire, 2015) These studies suggest that the increasing time spent on social media can strain other areas of our daily life. The search for acceptance and belonging within social media can put a heavy burden on young minds that it can go further than outward social acceptance. The fact that social media is causing mental instability within the youth using it is one glaring reason why the time spent on it should be limited. The editorial makes this clear in the way it illustrated us being absorbed by social media.

The need to check your Facebook or Twitter feed is cutting into time our body needs to be able to recuperate. Studies showed that, “The artificial light we’re exposed to on a daily basis doesn’t do anything to synchronize our internal body clocks.” (Hall, 2015) The last few generations have found it more important to keep up to date with their social status and neglect their bodily needs. Improvements to sleeping habits in regards to this topic only begin with changing the habits of your social media usage.

The most ideal way to keep yourself out of this category of people, those who are addicted to social media, is to take preventative measures. A good first step is to keep your mobile device out of the room in which you sleep in. By doing so, you will not only fall asleep faster, but you’ll be void of the distractions that come in the form of social media apps. This also affects the type of sleep you get. This works in conjunction with studies that show that those who are viewing a screen of some sort prior to going to sleep, may not be getting a good night’s sleep. Alternatively, a good way to cut down on habitual addictive use of social media is to each day take a step back and recount your social media usage time, and then find a way to lessen it. Instead of posting to your Facebook account in hopes for that beloved “like,” you should sit down with your family and tell them about your day.

There are so many things that we should be made aware of when signing up for social media, but we’re never exposed to them until it’s too late. Once you’re involved with social media are you ever really able to quit it? Deep rooted connections are made between users and companies that use cookies to compile data, so you’re more or less always a part of these systems. The need to detach yourself from social media is one that should be known, there are no limits given to social media sites in terms of exposure. The average user’s lack of self-control can be harmful to their general health.




Works Cited

Company Info | Facebook Newsroom. Facebook Newsroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 June 2016.

Elgan, Mike. Social Media Addiction Is a Bigger Problem than You Think. Computerworld. N.p., 2015. Web. 6 June 2016.

Fitts, Alexis Sobel. Teens Obsessed With Facebook May Struggle With Anxiety, Sleep Problems. Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 1 June 2016.

Gregoire, Carolyn. “Heavy Social Media Use Linked With Mental Health Issues In Teens.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 28 July 2015. Web. 06 June 2016.

Hall, Alena. “The Main Cause Of All Those Sleepless Nights.” The Huffington Post., 27 Apr. 2015. Web. 06 June 2016.


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Online Identity Reflection Revision


If I were a potential audience member of my life, and I were given my social media profile to examine prior to meeting myself, I would see the two as if they belonged to entirely different people. The extreme differences in my academic and online persona are so strong that it shows a clear misunderstanding of the impact of online posts to a person’s reputation whether it be online or in his or her everyday life. The profound effects that result from posting online is often overlooked, and it’s clear these are things that I hadn’t taken into account in my younger years when I started using social media. Taking a step back and looking into your own social media can be an intimidating thing. As an individual that grew up through their teen years using social media such as Facebook and other similar sites, it’s easy to find a number of posts that are rather regrettable.Who Are YOU?

To begin, I’d like to look at a few of the ignorant or regrettable things that have been posted and buried down into my social media accounts. Facebook proves to be a gold mine for these type of things for many users. Most recently, I’ve been tagged in many photos from a few friends that I’d rather not be tagged in such as the following: (The photo has been uploaded to an image sharing site as I do not wish to link my personal social media account here.) This is an image of a modified version of a common college drinking game. I was tagged in it by a fellow roommate. While this is not something we would do, the aim was making a joke towards a housewarming party when we moved into our house the following semester. This kind of image that is visible by anyone who is a friend of mine on the website has the ability to reflect poorly on my civic and academic persona. From an employer’s point of view, they may not want to hire an employee who may be spending their nights binge drinking leading them to be unreliable on the job. This is one of many downsides in having such images tied to your social media accounts. Many employers may do quick searches for a possible employee on social media websites in order to gain a quick look past their resume. This can end up costing the person in question a job over another applicant with a secure account that doesn’t show photos that could diminish your civic persona.

The next point I’d like to bring up is context collapse, a situation that happens often online in which the context of a post, photo, or something related is skewed due to the audience having no relationship to the poster or event. In a public domain such as Facebook, the image I had posted beforehand can easily be brought out of context. As I said previously, it was a joke about a house party when we move in, something that wouldn’t ever happen. To the average Facebook user who doesn’t know me well and doesn’t know the context of the situation, they may assume that I am intending to do this. Had this event occurred face to face, the context of the conversation or story is given through body language and vocal inflections. The sarcasm within the post would have been explicit rather than implied. These situations tarnish your academic persona. Your online persona should reflect on your civic and academic persona.

Online interactions are extremely fragile. When posting on social media, I often have not used any discretion in terms of who my audience is. Posts such as the one made on August 22, 2013, “Hah! Jokes on you guys because butts.,” are seen as childish and immature. It is clear my online persona does not reflect my academic persona or my actual identity. The ability to post behind a screen gives a feeling of anonymity that doesn’t come with a face to face interaction. In reality, the audience that a user may assume is concentrated when posting online, is actually extremely vast, and the anonymity the user feels is actually not there at all. All of one’s online postings directly reflect him or her, and mine do not reflect my true identity or my academic persona, which I’d like to think is that of a respectable hard working student, in a positive manner.

With the readings within “Sharing Our Lives Online: Risks and Exposures In Social Media” by David R. Brake, it’s clear that there is much that is missed in the average use of social media, including that of my own. Whether it be in the form of context collapse, or the overlooked effect of public postings on your personal identity and academic persona, I am no stranger to these situations as I’ve recently seen on my very own social media accounts. It’s clear that there is most definitely a negative impact on my personal identity from the content on my social media accounts like Facebook. The online persona, that holds uncensored and unfiltered postings, is entirely different to my academic persona, which is very reserved and generally not outspoken. This negative impact on my personal or civic persona should be accounted for by taking the necessary steps to properly represent myself online to prevent tarnishing my professional reputation.



Photo Source: Nadine, Rebecca. “Is Your Online Persona Really You? – East&…” East and Blog. N.p., 2014. Web. 14 June 2016.

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A Brief Introduction

Hello! Welcome to my blog which I’ll be utilizing to log some of my work over the remainder of the course in order to share the  improvements I’ve gained during the course.

At Longwood University I’m studying Physics and Pre-Engineering, and I find many of the new advancements in Physics very intriguing and find myself reading into them whenever I have down time. I’m always curious about the new discoveries or experiments that people are doing, this information is largely shared by regular people like myself on sites like Reddit. The internet is great for topics like this because many of the experiments conducted by these people are not repeatable by someone like myself, so being able to share the data found and what their attempting to achieve is very convenient, and helps them and their peers connect.

That’s a bit about me, and the end of this post!


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