Privacy and Freedom of Speech

This quote changed the way I think about privacy. I always considered the surveillance to be a good thing because it protects people from those who want to do harm. And, in fact, why would I mind being watched, if I do not have anything to hide.

However, even though majority of people might never face negative consequences of the constant surveillance we are under, it does not mean that there are not any.

As with a freedom of speech, privacy is required the most in times of instability and dissatisfaction with the way things work in society. Imagine no freedom of speech during the Martin Luther King’s time. Imagine an activist fighting against a corrupted government and that government being able to find out his private information and even location from CCTV or online accounts in social networks.

Privacy appears to be one of the things that guarantee our democracy and, for the matter of fact, a freedom of speech. Surveillance serves a good purpose in society enhancing our security, but we need to be careful of what we share online and how much freedom we give the government and those in power to watch us.

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What if all the books were under a СС licence?

The internet may seem to be the source of any information that one possibly might want to learn. However, even in our digital age, printed or online books are the main source of professional knowledge.

Consider the world, where all the books exist under a Creative Commons license. As an advantage, we would be able to learn anything for free. Potentially, this would increase the amount of educated people in the world, help the employability and elevate the level of life.

If universities had all their learning materials under a CC licence and available to the public, we could achieve greater equality between social classes. In this case, everyone would have the equal access to education, since now not everyone can afford to pay expensive tuition fees.

However, this image may be too idealistic. The Internet provides a fair share of information, sources to learn various skills and gain professional knowledge (free online courses, for example). Nevertheless, many people go online only for entertainment. The availability of knowledge does not necessarily mean people will make use of it.

I believe that the society found a fair compromise between having strict regulations and providing the population with fair access to knowledge. There are multiple free sources of educational materials, as well as tuition loans to help the population with fees and scholarships for talented people and those who are willing to go extra mile to receive an education.

Take This Lollipop

There is a web site called Take This Lollipop created by Jason Zada in 2011. It shows how much other people can learn about you from your profile on Facebook.

The web site requests to connect with an individual’s Facebook account and then incorporates all the information that was shared to the public in a short horror film. It features a creepy looking man sitting in an abandoned building and ‘stalking’ that individual: he sees the profile, pictures, location.

There are also videos of people  watching TakeThisLollipop.com. For example, watch this video, it has 58311 views at the moment.

The web site makes you think about what people share on the Internet and the dangers of sharing too much personal information. Mr. Zada said ‘The piece is scary because a person is violating your privacy, not because it’s bloody or there’s anything jumping out’.

The name seems to refer to what parents tell their children when warning them not to talk to strangers and ‘not take a candy’.However, it is not only the ‘creeps’ who are of concern here, but also the amount of information social networks, other web sites and internet providers gather and, importantly, for what purposes it is used and if it is further shared.

Social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc, are not called ‘social’ for nothing. They work well because users share their photographs, list of friends, events attended and other personal information so the social networks can mimic the social interaction in real life.However, by exposing ourselves online, do we give up our privacy, encourage The Big Brother to watch us and jeopardise our freedom of speech and democracy?

Online Brand Communities – Starbucks

The firms that operate in B2C market, meaning they focus their selling operations on individual consumers, often create online communities for their brands to be able to communicate with the customers.

For example, Starbucks created a blog My Starbucks Idea where users can suggest their ideas about product itself, experience or involvement with the brand.  The members of the community then vote and the most popular ideas are implemented. At the time of writing this post, almost 300 of innovations have already come to life!

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The consumers benefit from such online community as they have a chance to provide feedback to the company and actually make a difference and improve their experience with Starbucks.

At the same time, the brand has an opportunity to show that they truly care and listen to their consumers, which improves brand-customer relations. It allows Starbucks to progress and create a product according to the needs and desires of its consumers.

However, for the online community to be successful, it must be free of censorship and allow posting not only positive ideas, but criticism as well. This requires a great deal of commitment and courage, but if the brand is ready to so, the transparency and openness of the strategy gives additional value to the brand.

Audience Participation in Advertising

In the modern society, people are exposed to the enormous amount of advertising every day. Different sources estimate that the number of ads we see varies approximately from 250 to 3000 per day and above. Furthermore, consumers are aware of the fact that brands are constantly trying to sell them their products and, therefore, traditional advertisements are met with mistrust or often go unnoticed. The saturation of our everyday life with advertising means that the industry has an increasing demand for producing new, noticeable and interesting content.

The novel concept of user-generated content (UGC) provides a good solution for current market conditions. UGC is any form of content created by users and publically available to other consumers, often via social networks. The studies show that millennials trust the user-generated content 50% more than other types of media and, additionally, it proves to be 35% more memorable.

For example, Pampers launched a ‘Love, Sleep & Play’ campaign in 2013 that was majorly based on the use of UGC. This one-minute commercial consists of edited together real-life Youtube videos that show parents kissing and hugging their babies and them laughing, playing or falling asleep. Due to the use of user-generated videos, the commercial received a highly positive feedback, as the advertisement looks genuine and sincere.

By involving the audience and encouraging it to participate in advertising campaigns, the brands can create stronger consumer loyalty, higher brand-user interaction and lead to more trust towards their brands. This ultimately leads to the main goal – increase in sales.

Vkontakte

I would like to introduce you to another social network called VK. You probably have not heard about it, but it is the most popular social network in the Russian-speaking world.

Initially, VK was called ‘vkontakte’ that translates as ‘being in contact’. It started just like Facebook, it was founded in 2006 by Pavel Durov who just graduated from St Petersburg State University. At the beginning, user registration was only available by invitation and was limited to university circles, but the social network grew rapidly. Now it has over 340 million registered accounts and over 81 000 000 average daily users.

In many ways, VK resembles Facebook. You can add pictures, exchange messages with your friends, join communities, create events, use it as a news source by following the corresponding pages, etc. However, VK also has imbedded audio and video players that mean that you can access almost all music available online and many films and TV shows on one platform for free.

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From the point of view of a regular user, I find VK extremely useful because mostly everything I need from the internet I can find on one web site.

However, as to implications to the media industry, VK seems to harm music and film industries because content that is usually available there violates the copyright laws. I will go in more detail about that in week 7 blog post.

Furthermore, it seems that the illusion that VK provides all the information and content you need makes it a powerful tool for propaganda. For many it is the only news source, but it cannot be said to be 100% reliable and it does not provide the whole picture. It was also widely used as a weapon in ‘the information war’ between Russia and Ukraine during the ongoing conflict to spread untruthful information and raise panic. If you want to see the famous ‘russian bots’ in action I welcome you have a look at a comment section under any post in any popular community that does not moderate its comments.

 

Medium.com

Recently I came across the blogging platform medium.com.

When I was writing my essay for Media & Society class last semester, I was researching the effect of political and economic forces on news media production. One of my arguments was that news media sources owned by commercial corporations aim to be financially beneficial by attempting to attract bigger audiences and, therefore, their content is highly consumer-oriented. In other words, the more attention issue receives by public, the higher its media coverage is going to be and I was trying to find some sources to support this argument.

One of the examples I provided was the fact that terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut last year received different media coverage. I was trying to find academic or statistical proof of it and discovered this article on medium.com by Suman Deb Roy called ‘Paris and Beirut: Data suggest how Social Media shapes the Coverage‘. The article provides a detailed account on coverage of both issues and proves the correlation between social media attention and media coverage. The information is presented in graphs and is well written and easy to understand even though it uses statistical hypothesis that not everyone is familiar with.

I think the article is interesting because its findings are applicable to the media production in general. It is relevant to the modern society as there is rising concern and debate about what is news and what is considered to be newsworthy.

I recommend you check out the platform as it has interesting articles with unconventional points of view.