Audience: The critics of social media.
Social media is a class of technology and tools used for engagement and interaction purpose. Accordingly, social media platforms encompass the sharing of information between and amongst people. The messages or information disseminated in social media platforms may be formal or informal. More often, these platforms are used in the sharing of informal messages, and communications. Most of the applications that facilitate social media interaction support informal communications. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have integrated both elements of formality and informality. The paper aims at explication of the fact that Twitter, the leading social media platform, provides the next-generation communicative facility that revolutionizes the way people interact socially in the virtual domain.
Indeed, Twitter is used by most government departments, agencies, and State officials to disseminate important information of policy to the general public. Notably is the recent acquisition of a Twitter account by the President of the United States (US), Barack Obama, designated as “@ POTUS”. According to Codianni Ashley of the Cable News Network (CNN), although President Obama and the White House both previously had official Twitter accounts, the handle “@ POTUS” was the first official Twitter account of the US president (n.p.). The reporter adds that after President Obama was authorized to use the said Twitter handle, reliable sources from the White House confirmed that the “@ POTUS” handle would henceforth be transferrable to the succeeding presidents (Ashley n.p.). Due to a higher probability of some individuals impersonating the accounts that purport to represent a government department, organ, or official, USA.gov has been tasked with helping the American people verify these accounts in order to be sure that any communication from these social media platforms is genuine (USA.gov n.p.). Presently, some of the social media official websites accounts USA.gov verifies include: Facebook, Flickr, Ustream, Tumblr, Scribd, Posterous, Myspace, Twitter, and LinkedIn among others. Accordingly, the “@ POTUS” handle is among the official accounts that the USA.gov confirms to be authentic and belongs to President Obama.
Subsequently, in Ireland, the government has made the use of Twitter as the main social media tool for its interaction and communication with the people. Some of the official Twitter handles of its departments include:” @agriculture_ie” used by the Agriculture, Marine, and Food Department; “@DeptAHG” utilized by the Heritage, Arts and the Gaeltacht Department; “@Education_Ire” used by the Department of Skills and Education; and “@defenceforces” used by the Defence Forces among other handles. On the whole, Twitter has been used extensively by most governments and their departments around the world to interact the locals as well as the international community.
In stark contrast to the user-friendliness and simplicity of communication as found in the social networking website, Twitter, the Facebook platform works in a different way. The website allows users to create both official and personal profile pages using the same account. However, the majority of the users in Facebook do not create official “Pages”. Instead, they prefer using their personal profile “Pages”. There are very few government officials and departments who use Facebook to interact with the citizenry. Arguably, this unpopularity of the use of Facebook “Pages” is probably the reason there has been no popular official Facebook account for the President of the US similar to the “@ POTUS” account that has received significant recognition amongst the Americans and the world at large. Thus, it can very well be opined that the social media platform of Facebook is not at par with the usage and preciseness of Twitter when it comes to effective social interaction. Twitter is finding the rush and validation since it allows effective message dissemination to the public with just a short message. The followers of the profile from where the message is communicated would get an immediate update. In this way, Twitter totally follows the philosophy of simplification of communication, and it works for good.
Conversely, the LinkedIn social platform is more of a professional social site where employers, potential employees, and staff interact in matters entailing their professions. This social site enables the users to post their academic qualifications and experience for the purpose of sharing this information to other people who have an interest in their careers. For example, individuals in search of job opportunities are able to share their professional experience and qualifications to potential employers who may in turn communicate to them to scheduling for an interview session. Moreover, companies may advertise their available job vacancies to capture potential applicants. Thus, the communication on LinkedIn is vastly different from message dissemination as found on Twitter. As such, it fails to replace Twitter for the purpose of mass communication and reaching out to the masses.
Accordingly, based on the observations and discussion above, one can conclude that Twitter is more useful social platform compared to both Facebook and LinkedIn with regard to mass communication and official communication on social media. On the other hand, Facebook falls within the informal and formal bracket based on the majority of the content shared in it. Much of the content shared by users in LinkedIn is professional and thus, it cannot work as a medium of mass communication in the society. Consequently, evaluations of the majority of Facebook users are teenagers whose main engagement is social in nature. A large pool of the LinkedIn users are college graduates who are pursuing job opportunities, and thus its domain gets constricted. Twitter, on the other hand, is significantly formal and used by the government and its officials to disseminate government messages. Thus, the platform has a holistic use as it functions as a social interactive tool, platform for message dissemination, communication within community, and so on. Hence, most of its users are the young adults because the major interest of people in this age category is to be in constant update with the current events. Keeping aside the concern of being monitored, the critics of social media should focus on the usefulness of social media communication over a platform like Twitter. It would be comprehensible to the critics that Twitter works holistically to serve the purpose of communication (inter-personal, community interaction, nationwide or worldwide message dissemination). Hence, there can be no iota of doubt over its omniscience and usefulness in the present day scenario of technological advancement and power of mass communication.
Ashley, Codianni. @POTUS joins Twitter, jokes with @BillClinton. 2015. Web. 26 June 2015.
Government of Ireland. Twitter Accounts – Government Departments, Offices, Agencies. n.d. Web. 26 June 2015.
USA.gov. “Verify U.S. Federal Government Social Media Accounts”. USA.gov Website, 11 May 2015. Web. 26 June 2015.