Senate Social Hearings Do Little to Reassure Facebook Users

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee last Wednesday with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey in the latest hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The leaders of the two largest social media companies in America testified about their process in determining which accounts are real, and which are potentially dangerous to mechanisms such as the American electoral system.

While Dorsey apologized, saying they were not prepared for the wave of troll armies, Sandberg stood defiant, saying, “We are more determined than our opponents, and we will keep fighting.”

Sandberg also updated Congress on Facebook’s progress on stopping fraudulent pages from surfacing and said they are working with other entities to stop the further spread of misinformation.



There was one key moment when Sandberg told the committee, “Our focus [when looking for foreign accounts] is inauthenticity.” Matt Binder, a reporter for Mashable made an important point on Sandberg’s statement.

“When asked to approximate just how many Facebook accounts are ‘inauthentic,’ Sandberg replied between 3 and 4 percent. At Facebook’s reported 2.23 billion active users, that would mean somewhere between 66,900,000 and 89,200,000 are inauthentic.”

That staggering number may have some users of the site concerned over viewing their content. However,


Both Dorsey and Sandberg were also grilled by Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) on hate speech on their respective platforms.  While both apologized and claimed to be on top of this issue, just this weekend, bots attacked users yet again.


Despite the updates, the hearings did little to re-assure the American people that leaders at both companies were on top of the situation, and with no clear way to determine which accounts are inauthentic, it will still be easy for hate and misinformation to slip through the cracks.
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Gossip Magazines, Wikipedia, Facebook … What’s the Difference?

In middle school, I learned: 1. How to set up my Facebook account 2. Wikipedia was not a valid or reliable source. Now, the thought of using Wikipedia has vanished and yet the cite that I once used to communicate and connect with friends across the states — is now where we search for important news articles? Something doesn’t seem so right.

The biggest question I have is: when did we abdicate our responsibility for gathering, investigating, and verifying news sources to sites such as Facebook? Growing up with a with a renowned journalist as a mother, a stepfather who was editor in chief of a top magazine, an activist stepmother, and a father involved in local politics, I was taught the only fake news that affected our society came from magazines that I would see online at the grocery store, such as US Weekly or the National Enquirer. But now, years later, the topic of Fake News has taken over my dinner table conversation.


So what should we do? It’s time for us take back our responsibility. Marc Zuckerberg, said in a CNN interview “We need to make it so that trolls can’t spread fake news. We can get in front of this.” But I think, Facebook can make their changes, so can Twitter, so can whoever — but it’s up to the consumers to find the truth. Check the website an article is from. Find out who wrote it, search who it is, and determine whether or not the information and sources are reliable and accurate. When it comes to the generation I’m a part of, we love instant gratification. An article on our newsfeed becomes the quickest way to grab a story. But it’s time we take a step back, become more thorough in our investigations of news stories and opinions.

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Land of the Free, Home of the Tweet?

Agenda Setting Theory was put forth by Maxwell McCombs and Donald Shaw in 1972. This theory suggests that the media sets the public agenda. It is not a matter of what is being said in the media, but what topics or stories should be talked about. With social media on the rise, it seems there may be a shift from power of the media to power of the people, so what does this mean for politicians?

I would first advise politicians to utilize social media carefully. It may sound silly, but as a public figure you are already under a microscope and an individuals credibility can easily be damaged if used frivolously. Your mother wasn’t kidding when she said, “don’t post it on social media unless you want it on the front page of the newspaper.”

Today, politics in general have taken over social media allowing social media users to join the open-ended conversation. Another piece of advice I would offer to politicians is to utilize social media but to do so strategically and keep their personal life out of the conversation. Social media is so instantaneous that one post can hinder credibility and opinions and personal life can quickly get tied into the media agenda or what is being talked about.

With agenda setting power shifting toward consumers, politicians certainly should check themselves before they wreck themselves.



McCombs, M. (2003). The agenda-setting role of the mass media in the shaping of public opinion. University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved from

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Catch-11 on Twitter for successful politicians

Social media is a special form of mass communication with some features of interpersonal communication. According to Agenda Setting Theory, Twitter, as a social media, exerts significant influence on what users consider to be the major issues. If you want to be a successful politician, you need to learn some new strategies to connect public awareness positively with your policies,  views, and image.

1.Twitter frequently, even though there is nothing important to twitter. You are the one that readers should always think about. Use all methods to increase your followers.

2.Use clear and concise tags to post new issues so that your readers can think about and talk about them conveniently.

3.Set new agendas to make readers forget previous detrimental agendas and to remind them of previous beneficial agendas for you.

4.Twitter issues which are more related to your successful experience and to your opponent’s unsuccessful experience.

5.In politics, lies might not become truth, but repeating lies can make readers think about your angle of thinking and doubt about truth.

6.Express your explicit attitude toward public events as existing agendas immediately after it happens. If you don’t express immediately, your opponent’s voice will be heard by your readers.

7.Utilize social hot events as opportunities of setting agendas that connect readers’ personal life with your political assertion.

8.Give readers the most available information, the easiest cases, and the clearest causal explanation for agendas.

9.Show a personalized, not a distant image which can persuade readers to talk with you about agendas.

10.Stress “key words” which can help readers remember your agendas. The key words should echo your policy assertion and your personal image.

11. Use personalized and clear words for expressing your attitude about agendas because readers need a clear target to discuss.



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How to Improve Facebook

I remember begging my mom to let me have Facebook back when I was about ten years old. Facebook has been a place where we all have been able to connect for your years, keep updated on each others lives, and brag about our accomplishments. For some Facebook is a place to upload vacation pics, announce they got into college, and share funny videos that made them laugh. For others it is a place where they overshare and post about things that no one really needed to know. Recently Facebook has become a hub for politics and crisis around the world. Many people have spoken out against Facebook begging for a change. The workers of Facebook are now faced with a huge social responsibility to its users. It started as a fun space to share our lives and is now a tool we all need to keep updated on the world.

My advice for Facebook to become a place where people can trust them again is to make two separate news feeds. One for our funny pics and status about our lives. The other one where they highly filter the real news. On this new news feed they can have a new button where people can vote on whether it is real news or fake news. Facebook needs to start working with their users to rid out the fake news and content that is destroying our current society. On the normal newsfeed Facebook can go back to its roots and why it was created. By separating the two people can one get the content they want and two less people will be influenced by untrue content.

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Bridging the Distance

Social media: the thing our parents always told us to get off of at the dinner table. But today social media plays a bigger, more important role in our daily lives. It is bringing the distance and bringing the world together with the goal of making a difference.

Mark Zuckerberg briefly touched on this at the Facebook Community Summit. He says that in the next generation our greatest opportunities and challenges we can only take on together. Social media gives users the opportunity to support each other and give assurance that nobody is alone.

Support is more evident than ever on social media since the virtual Hurricane Harvey relief movement. From rescue requests to real-time up updates of where people can find food and shelter, social media saved lives in Texas during the devastating August 2017 storm.

This woman tweeted a plea for help when her family was in danger during the storm. The coast guard responded and added her to the rescue list.


The USCG of Heartland tweeted what to do during the storm to stay safe:

Though these examples show the positive side of social media, the storm also presented the negative effects. The spread of misinformation and doctored images is always a problem during crisis times, such as one that resurfaced during Harvey showing a shark swimming on a flooded highway.

If social media keeps coming together during these crisis times, all users have the power to be a leader. And if enough of us work together to bring each other together, the world can be changed.


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It Go Down in the DM, and All Over the World

Hi, I’m Ryan, and I have slid into a girl’s DM’s before.

It started off in fittingly juvenile fashion. Two of my classmates approached me during my high school journalism class. “Hey Pike, [redacted] said she thinks you’re cute.”

[Redacted]? She was a senior and I was a sophomore. This was crazy. I didn’t believe them at first, but by the end of our conversation, I was convinced. I had to talk to her, but I didn’t know how to.

So, 15-year-old me slid himself into her Twitter direct messages. Just another simple example of how social media has the power to bring the world together.

Of course, social media has the ability to bring together more than just two teenagers who might know of each other but not actually know each other. It’s a powerful tool that has brought the whole world closer.

When I studied in Madrid last Fall, it was easier than ever to share photos and details from my trip with everyone who would be interested in seeing them.

I didn’t have to wait until the trip ended to share fun photos or write letters home to share details. Instead, I had instant gratification on Twitter and Instagram from friends and family who, in a sense, were experiencing the trip with me. That was pretty cool, especially for my parents who have never left North America. To me, that’s a clear illustration of how social media has changed the world and brought it closer together.


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Media Richness & Advice to the New Administration

When considering media richness, it’s important to consider the chart published in the 1983 publication of the paper “Information Richness. A New Approach to Managerial Behavior and and Organizational Design” that depicts the Information Medium and its level of Information Richness. At the time of publication, social media did not exist, but it doesn’t seem to fit into a specific information medium as listed at the time. If given its own medium, it would likely be above “numeric formal,” but below “written, formal documents.” However, we must consider that the mediums of social media can be both personal or broad in their breadth.

The paper states that it’s premise is “that organizational success is based on the organization’s ability to process information of appropriate richness &, reduce uncertainty and clarify ambiguity.”

While “low variety languages” were considered by Daft and Wiginton to be those used to communicate “effectively about well-understood, unambiguous topics,” it seems that the Trump administration’s use of twitter both during the campaign and since taking office have relied on low variety languages to communicate with their millions of followers. This method seems to have hit a successful note with his die-hard fans, but in order to win over the rest of Washington and the nation, he’s going to need to produce a lot more quality content than simply posting defensive tweets every time someone is critical of him. Examples:

If I were advising his team on social media based on the media richness theory, I would suggest letting the President’s actions speak for themselves through his behavior and acts, if he truly wants to “Make America Great Again.” Documenting these, and starting conversations over the real underlying issues is what will give us media rich content that is not confusing and misleading to the public.

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