“Connectication” and Privacy as Shaped by Social Media

“Social media” has become a topic appealing for the scholars working on media studies, sociology, social psychology, education, business studies and many more fields. Business models and privacy are some of the issues discussed fervently. Two articles in the social media bundle by José van Dijck and Sabine Trepte refer to these two issues.

José van Dijck in her article named After Connectivity: The Era of Connectication proposes to use the term “connective media” in the place of social media since the word “social” in relation to media has lost most of its essence as a result of Marc Zuckerberg’s previous call of making everything social. The writer makes a chronological division of social media calling the period between 2004–2014 the first decade of social networks. In this period, the word social altered its connotative meaning from the connected situation of human users to automated connectivity of platforms. This first decade refers to the process of connecting the world. As for the second decade of social media, 2015 and onwards, another meaning is said to have been in question and this is “layered dynamics”. This latter decade is defined as helping the connection of people who have not yet been connected and watching what happens. However, criticism is apparent at this point. It is claimed that the motive is not only bringing the Internet to the other parts of the world but making those parts lacking the Internet filled up with app distribution system which has an entrance guarded predominantly by Facebook. Rather than human connectedness being the core concern, it is the automated connectivity and data flows drifting towards commercial attention zones. According to Dijck, this enthusiastic attempt with the mission of attracting commercial zones could be named “connectication”. This coined term is inspired by the word Californication meaning the influx of Californians into the different west states of the US. Based on this idea, California-headquartered platforms (those in Silicon Valley) will be inflowing the different parts in the US, Europe as well as Asia. However, this process of making 5.1 billion people who lack access to the Internet will not be similar to installing a regular infrastructure facility like water piping or irrigation systems. In other words, it cannot be considered as conventional infrastructure investment. This will be a part of the mission as the second stage of social networking corporatism as stated by Time magazine calling the Internet.org mission of Facebook as the act of self-serving techno-colonialism. Colonialism has also changed its shape as a result of the expansion of social networks and digital platforms. Van Dijck refers to her earlier coined terms, datafication and dataism; and thinks that connectication reveals a neoliberal agenda which profoundly enters into the national public spheres in a period when borders between technological, political and cultural organization are becoming more and more fluid. In short, there is a hidden agenda behind the social rhetoric of Facebook making people connected underlining the openness. In fact, global information flows lie as undercurrents. In this article, it has been interesting to read about the coined word “connectication” which very well defines what is happening as a result of the latest technological developments and changing dynamics. One of the key words of the article is given as platform economics. Although it is not defined in the article, new business models are said to shape the majority of the world’s social traffic. In addition, the motives and the developments are mentioned in the article referring to platform economics which make maximum use of digital technologies. It is not the products and services that make a huge difference but the platforms these products and services are built on. The booklet that can be found (with the link attached below in the reference section) provides current statistics stating that the top 15 public platform companies represent $ 2.6 trillion in market capitalization worldwide. This profit edge shows how companies would be eager to penetrate more into new markets and operate with more connectication through platform economics.

Two more interesting terms “warm” and “cold” affordances grabbed my attention in another article named Social Media, Privacy, and Self-Disclosure: The Turbulence Caused by Social Media’s Affordances written by Sabine Trepte. By warm affordance, familiar functions of social media are referred to. There is a warmth involved with subjective audience (personal publics) such as our peers. Cold affordance, on the other hand, is more complex, obscure and external, far from the daily use of the users. It is related to the legal architecture of the social media with the website’s terms and conditions of use. Once you upload a photo on a social network site, it becomes a belonging of the web service. Users of these websites operate under the conditions of cold affordances. The writer shares most of the social media users’ concerns about privacy, stating that social media have challenged our understanding of privacy and routines related to our privacy. Social media in fact caused turbulence about privacy and created communication about privacy issues among the users (called metacommunication, communication about communication). Privacy has been a concern for humans in conversation and interaction since the socialization process but with social media adding an extra layer to privacy, there has been a widespread paranoid thinking that prevails as to what extent our personal lives are really private. These are typical issues under discussion, yet learning recently coined terms on social media through the topics discussed in the article has been interesting.

written by A. Dereli as Response Paper II (for COMM 720 Week 3–2016–2017 Academic Year)

References:

Trepte, S. (2015). Social media, privacy, and self-disclosure: The turbulence caused by social media’s Affordances. Social Media + Society, 1(2), . doi:10.1177/2056305115578681

Van Dijck, J. (2015). After Connectivity: The era of Connectication. Social Media + Society, 1(1), . doi:10.1177/2056305115578873

Some related useful links:

https://www.accenture.com/fr-fr/_acnmedia/PDF-2/Accenture-Platform-Economy-Technology-Vision-2016-france.pdf (A small booklet on platform economics with useful graphs)

http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/DigitalAge/Pages/DigitalAgeIndex.aspx (legal issues and rights in the digital age)

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jayson-demers/how-rare-is-internet-priv_b_5676746.html (An article on privacy, business and the Internet)