DH1001 Repeat Assessment
Student Number: 119418736
Student Name: Maxwell Jordan Callanan
- Discuss any TWO of the main social media types or platforms; what about them is similar and / or how do they differ? Consider their social impact – on individuals and on society.
Social media platforms have been under harsh criticism in recent years due to their supposed negative effects on the general public. Numerous mainstream news outlets have reported on the adverse social and phycological impacts of media sharing websites such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, Youtube, and Twitter among several others. These websites are by far the most discussed by the mainstream media and this is no doubt due to their high amounts of user traffic generated each year. To be concise, the more popular websites will be discussed far more than less popular websites.
This of course, makes sense with exception to one form of social media that is often too taboo to discuss within the mainstream environment: The pornography industry. Within the confines of this essay I would like to explore the similarities and differences between the social media website Pornhub and a more mainstream social media, Youtube.
The first idea to consider is whether Pornhub should be classified as social media. This is often debated as social media is often considered to be a space where a user sharing their content and a user watching other’s content are both equally centric to the experience. So what is social media exactly? Social Media is defined as
(1) “Websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participating in social networking.”
Youtube for example, is a space where anyone can upload a video, no matter the topic so long as it abides by Youtube’s comparatively loose rules and regulations. Youtube users are also actively encouraged to share their homemade videos by the Youtube community itself. Millions of users have made respectable careers via making YouTube videos, which no doubt presents Youtube as a viable career option for Influencers, bloggers, professional gamers and general entertainers in 2020. This definition of course does qualify Pornhub as a social media. Pornhub however, while it allows anyone to upload videos, the rules and regulations are much stricter and requires the user to somewhat objectify themselves, a concept that turns most users away from ever uploading anything. This moral barrier to uploading videos undoubtedly presents Pornhub as more of a streaming service akin to Websites like Disney+ and Netflix as a large majority of the population never intend to upload anything to Pornhub. Despite the different user experiences between the two social media, both have large and ever-growing user bases thus both social media affect society as a whole.
Due to these increases in user bases, recent years have seen Youtube come to replace traditional television for young people. Michael Rosenblum, an online television producer and the founder of Rosenblum TV, said
(2) “The traditional TV concept is over. YouTube and internet video will not only impinge the rights of conventional broadcasting institutions but will also destroy them. YouTube has just started.”
This claim is supported by programs such as late-night talk shows and cooking shows becoming exponentially more popular on Youtube when compared to their airings on television. But what does this growth mean for the user, and how does this affect society?
To start, Youtube contributes heavily to the normalization of user data theft. A relatively new occurrence where personal information is copied without consent and is often used by companies to generate user-oriented advertisements/ideas to the user. The idea of taking a user’s personal data without their consent would have been considered irredeemable even ten years ago however, in 2020 there seems to be little to no debate regarding the use of such user data. This normalization of taking such data can easily be attributed to websites like YouTube and other social media. Among data theft, the popularity of a website like YouTube normalizes other negative aspects of social media that would otherwise not have arisen on traditional television. These include the following:
(2) “• The secrets of commercial companies are disclosed.
• The users are misled due to videos prepared with false content.
• Manipulative contents are broadcasted in order to receive ads and sponsorship.
• Copyrights are disregarded.
• Contents that are contrary to public morality are created and spread.
• False blogs are created on behalf of a company in order to cause damage to that company.
• Contents are used without giving references.
• Fake profiles are created by hiding real identities.
• Prejudiced contents are prepared by companies having paid for such contents in order
to mislead their consumers.
• Spam videos are created.”
As mentioned above, false content permeates the online environment with millions of blogs and news outlets presenting their personal outlook and opinions as fact. This has given rise to previously more underground beliefs such as “Flat earth” and “Anti-Vaccination.” While enabling new/underground ideas spread quicker via Youtube could be considered beneficial, recent years have shown that this ease of spreading unproven ideas can be dangerous. For example previously believed to be eradicated diseases such as Polio have made a resurgence in the US in 2018 with more and more citizens refusing to vaccinate against the disease. On traditional television, these ideas would have previously had to have been approved of by a committee representing the company producing the program. This, of course, was to prevent occurrences such as hate speech to appear on television. However, with the lack of supervision present in the YouTube community, users who preach ideas of hate speech, sexism, racism among other derogatory ideals, are given a large platform to spread their ideas as they see fit.
Youtube also appears to have further romanticized celebrity news and drama and often communicates such news over real-world issues. Of course, celebrity culture has been popular for decades but in recent years has become so popular online to the point where it is unavoidable while using websites like Youtube. Scrolling through the website, you’ll see hundreds of videos of YouTubers discussing problems with other YouTubers and celebrities. In a sense, it romanticizes celebrity drama to an unhealthy proportion and promotes an argument oriented culture to a global audience. In recent years we have seen a surge in public figures complaining that they cannot speak their mind anymore without offending the public and beginning online arguments. This rise in public sensitivity could easily be attributed to this kind of argumentative culture that prominently resides in online communities such as youtube.com.
Despite these considerably negative outcomes, pornography websites such as Pornhub possibly present more substantial effects on humanity. Pornography has existed for hundreds of years in forms of pictures, magazines, and even paintings. However pornography in the form it is today, free online video, has only been around for roughly two to three decades and have had dramatic effects on society as a whole.
Pornography objectifies most if not all who partake in creating it. Years ago it was considered much more taboo. However with the advent of free online pornography websites such as Pornhub, it became accessible to the point where it has the potential to be in every household with an internet connection. This presents problems for generations growing up with internet pornography. For one, teenagers that are learning about sex for the first time are presented with unrealistic and demeaning representations of sexual activity. This is because
(3) “pornography sexualises and maintains inequality by promoting women as inferior and subordinate to men. It does this by associating women with feminine, men with masculine and by showing the masculine (male) as dominant and the women (feminine) as inferior objects to be used, controlled and violated for male sexual pleasure. Pornography does this in a context which shows these gender hierarchies as the “natural” or “normal” order of things.”
This can easily alter the general public’s perception of not only sexual activity but also somewhat promotes a sexist mentality to younger and more impressionable teenagers.
The process of normalizing an otherwise negatively impactful occurrence such as the previously discussed “data theft” within the confines of Youtube, is exponentially worse on websites like Pornhub. This is because Pornhub’s guidelines for videos and penalization for breaking sed guidelines are somewhat ineffective. Pornhub has tags and suggestions for sexual activity that would be considered illegal in most developed countries. Subjects such as beastiality, rape, drugging, theft, abuse, and blackmail, are all easily accessible via the website. This easy access on such a high traffic website, blatantly promotes the normalization of criminally charged actions in our society.
On an individual basis, Pornhub has the potential to hinder the sexual development of a teenager. The normalization of internet pornography has had some serious side effects according to
Dr. Megan Mass, a specialist in adolescent development. She states that some younger men who have grown up with internet pornography
(4) “report the need to actually think about porn while having sex with another human being just to maintain their erection. Some people report never making eye contact even once during the sexual experience and some women report that having their faces ejaculated on or being choked during a sexual experience is something that they wouldn’t feel the right to say no to.”
It is clear that Pornhub and websites like it have the potential to hinder sexual experiences and therefore also ruin romantic endeavors. Dr. Mass compares the abundance of internet pornography to the abundance of sugary and fatty foods in today’s society. Claiming that
(4) “early in our evolution, they were relatively rare. Now were don’t have to go far at all for high fat-high-sugar foods…..so I wonder if that food has made it possible for us to be such lazy eaters. Having unlimited access to porn and online sex made it possible for us to be lazy lovers.”
The continual growth of social media websites such as Pornhub and Youtube undoubtedly have an immense capacity for influence on today’s society. Both media tend to normalize aspects of humanity that most would consider dangerous. Subjects such as data theft, widespread false information, a romanticisation of celebrity culture, sexism, racism, objectification of people, and animals among other negative and unproductive sides of humanity.
Would we be better off without such social media? It is hard to say. Both websites were only founded roughly a decade ago with Youtube in 2006 and Pornhub in 2007. For the most part, their impact on society and individuals are yet to be fully realized given how new they really are. For now, its uncharted territory and only time will tell if they are a luxury to be enjoyed or a hindrance to us all.
1 – https://www.lexico.com/definition/social_media
2 – https://journals.scholarpublishing.org/index.php/ABR/article/view/5968/3627
3 – https://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/65/2/02Whole.pdf#page=21
4 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojw_yMMNPAs&t=513s
2. What is Net Neutrality? What does this term mean, and what does it mean for a free internet to have net neutrality threatened or limited? Discuss.
(5) “Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon should treat all content flowing through their cables and cell towers equally. That means they shouldn’t be able to slide some data into “fast lanes” while blocking or otherwise discriminating against other material. In other words, these companies shouldn’t be able to block you from accessing a service like Skype, or slow down Netflix or Hulu, in order to encourage you to keep your cable package or buy a different video-streaming service.”
In essence, Net neutrality acts as a barrier to prevent companies from making decisions that actively restrict and/or hinder a user’s experience. It is essential for free and unrestrictive internet. But what does it mean for the internet if net neutrality is abolished, threatened or limited?
To start, smaller companies as a whole benefit from net neutrality, as well as smaller YouTube channels, bloggers and other online presences, they all benefit from net neutrality. Without net neutrality, internet service providers could easily throttle the speeds of smaller websites and businesses if they can’t afford to pay for faster connections thus hindering them and hindering innovation on the internet as a whole. This would favor larger corporations who now have to contend with less competition thus creating less incentive for larger businesses to change and in a sense could cause online progress to come to a grinding halt.
As well as benefitting smaller start-ups, net neutrality also prevents internet service providers from censoring content as they see fit. This censorship could include anything from certain streaming sites to advertisements from other internet service providers. As a result, net neutrality offers a free and uncensored internet browsing experience. This results in all information being accessible to everyone with an internet connection. If net neutrality was abolished, certain companies could charge more and offer more information to higher paying customers. An extremification of this outcome would result in only the wealthy being able to access the internet in its entirety while less fortunate households are further restricted.
This freedom and lack of censorship is largely what separates the internet to other entertainment and learning mediums such as books, television, and film.
(6) “One reason for the differences between networks is rooted in history. The Internet was conceived by various visionaries, particularly the Department of Defence researchers J. C. R. Licklider and Robert W. Taylor, as a “network of networks” “
This core concept of a “network of networks” is actively threatened by the abolishment of net neutrality. The lack of censorship coupled with plentiful information presents a medium that can be somewhat less controlled by governments and thus less controlled by propaganda. This freedom and public control on a global scale, definitely benefits less fortunate and more tyrannically ruled countries as it offers the populous a means of obtaining uncensored and honest information. On a more local basis however, uncensored information is still essential to living in an honest and productive society.
Net Neutrality while largely beneficial, does produce some negative side effects. For example, users who pay for WiFi, pay for the service rather than the amount of data they use. This becomes an issue for internet service providers as data-intensive services such as video streaming account for roughly
(7) “57% of the bandwidth used worldwide”
Users who perhaps don’t stream as much, are still paying the same rates as users who use excessively more data. This results in money being lost by larger companies and results in less active users needlessly paying more for a service they rarely use.
Another issue with net neutrality is that illicit content is readily available and easily accessible by potentially any user. Videos of rape, murder and torture are all only a click away even if a user isn’t actively looking for it. Videos of illegal activity often gain traction on websites like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook where a user can easily scroll upon illicit content while browsing through videos. Limiting net neutrality to counteract this availability is no doubt a just cause but is however bordering on online censorship, the potential negatives of which have been disclosed previously within this paper.
While carefully limiting net neutrality is certainly a daunting task, there are some considerable benefits regarding accessibility that cannot be dismissed. Should net neutrality be considerately diminished, internet service providers could potentially increase profits as they can now charge for the amount of data a user expends. This could allow the infrastructure of the internet to grow, enabling high-quality internet service providers to reach more regions, letting more people access information more easily. The quality of service could also improve with improved speeds and faster loading times, it would no doubt be a smoother and more convenient service.
Despite these tempting benefits however, the general public seems to be greatly in favor of keeping net neutrality.
(8) “It was found that 83% of Americans are currently in favor of reinstating net neutrality rules.”
Net neutrality is not a controversial topic, in fact one would be hard-pressed to find someone who believes that large corporations should be in charge of what we see and don’t see. That then raises the question, why is it under such scrutiny in recent years? In many parts of the world, choices in internet service providers are extremely limited. Many rural and developing areas are especially limiting when it comes to such a choice. As a result, most customers do not get to choose from a wide variety of providers and as such, would not get to choose what kind of data was censored should net neutrality continue to diminish over time. Large corporations have the power to seriously alter peoples conscious ideas whether it be political stances or purchasing habits. If internet service providers are also enabling such corporations to flourish by favoring their content in areas that have limited choice in terms of internet service providers, it becomes propaganda all but in name.
There are those who would trust these large corporations with such responsibility however. Companies such as Facebook have all but proven that these propaganda propagations will be exploited thoroughly for the company’s gain. This is seen in Facebook’s program “Freebasics” in which Facebook extends free internet access to countries that don’t have the infrastructure for high-quality internet. While this idea is innocent in principal, “Freebasics” only allows people to view the websites that Facebook wants them to see while also censoring websites that Facebook does not want them to see. Couple such a program with the fact that these are people in countries who are provided with no choices in terms of internet service providers. As far as the general public of such countries are aware, they are seeing an uncensored internet. These people are getting an incredibly biased introduction to the internet as a whole and this is happening in over 60 different developing countries around the globe. Now granted, bias is inherently a given with any form of information, however, when several populations are not allowed to venture beyond the opinions of one power, it can inevitably transform into something much more malevolent in nature.
It is programs and situations like these that prove that there are clear public benefits to retaining net neutrality. In today’s society, many people are already unsettled by the power and influence of large companies. Many of which already partake in personalized advertising and selling user data with some companies such as Facebook accused of altering political outcomes via such undertakings.
From a students perspective, it is easy to support net neutrality and the freedom that it offers. It is no doubt important to keep a digital tool such as the internet as malleable as possible so that the public can experience the benefits of innovation at a rate never seen before in human history. Ever since its inception the freedom and potential of neutral internet service has produced a world where we are more connected to our friends and family than ever before. We have reliable sources of information available in our pockets and at the touch of a button. We are truly living in an age of information and should all seek to benefit as much as possible from our current technological privileges and liberties.
To conclude, net neutrality enables all users to be treated as equals. It puts all businesses on a level playing field, allowing smaller startups with new ideas to compete fairly with larger corporations. The very nature of net neutrality promotes genuine human equity on a scale that has never been seen before. Should we lose net neutrality, it would no doubt be a benefit to providers and larger corporations but only to the detriment of new ideas in an ever-evolving society. If freedom is an ideal to strive towards as it is so often presented, net neutrality is essential to progress within the confines of the online world. If we are not remotely free to think and speak our honest selves online, how can we be expected to live with honest integrity within society itself.
5 – https://www.wired.com/story/guide-net-neutrality/
6 – https://pubs.aeaweb.org/doi/pdfplus/10.1257/jep.23.3.61
7 – https://www.sandvine.com/hubfs/downloads/phenomena/phenomena-presentation-final.pdf