In an online environment, ‘networks’ could be defined as a dissemination of ideas that’s facilitated through online platforms and forms collective influence. Consequently, this influence could contribute to the creation of respective innovations. The ‘network’ concept plays into the previous post discussion about ‘participatory culture’ and how it represents what goes on in it.
For example, with Twitter, it epitomises a social network that facilitates and boosts participative interaction. As a micro-blogging service providing real-time data that connects (example: liking and sharing tweets) a worldwide audience, it highlights trending topics of the now. However, popularity doesn’t necessarily stem from positivity. As the previous post explored the risks in dealing with digital audiences, here we look at the darker side of networks with respect to what has just been introduced.
In Twitter engagement, notions such as ‘slacktivism’ and ‘clicktivism’ address the more narcissistic and blasé user participation and how their intentions aren’t necessarily true or logical. ‘Hashtag hijacking’ is a more intense version of those actions where users co-opt hashtags for personal use.
#MilkTruth is an example where vegan and anti-animal cruelty groups commandeered the light-hearted intention of the creators in tweeting general milk-facts. The hijackers fuelled their own agenda by staining the organisation with associating graphic images of tortured animals and health deterioration to milk. Despite proving that the company abides by strict anti-animal cruelty and health policies, these ‘activists’ overpowered them.
This questions with the Web abolishing traditional media as the ethical gatekeepers, who is left to keep both the organisations and audiences in check?
*positive hijacking for ethical cause can be seen in the previously mentioned #AskJameis campaign*