The readings this week focus on if social media use promotes a democracy by encouraging social capital and about being strategically successful for new activist campaigns. Social capital can be evaluated by the amount of civic participation, political knowledge and interpersonal trust a person has (Pasek et al.). Social capital in a society leads to efficiency in a democracy like the U.S. (Pasek et al. p. 3). The other main topic about the success with social media is focusing on the strategic metrics (measures of success) of a campaign on social media rather than the tactical measurements (number of people signed up, amount of blogs made, etc.) (Karpf p. 151).
One of the results from the Pasek et al. study that caught my eye was that Facebook is a little more likely to promote the joining of groups than MySpace. This study was done several years ago, so I believe this would be different today if evaluated. With the options on Facebook to make event pages and actual “group pages”, I think the joining of groups on Facebook would be WAY more than Myspace now. When people were just starting on Facebook (myself included), we used it just as we used to operate on Myspace. We updated our profile information and connected with friends. And until we got used to it and found out the ins and outs, we only treated it as another Myspace. Now, we communicate with friends and others through games we play, events created and even group pages. This group formation may not allow the ability for more political knowledge (depending on what type of things you like to do on Facebook), but it is often bringing on more civic participation and interpersonal trust. Trust can be apparent in many ways including the buying and selling that occurs on Facebook between friends and even people you don’t know (what comes to mind is how we sell our football tickets to one another). You can join groups such as the Michigan Association of Communication Studies and hear about the latest events to attend.
This civic participation and interpersonal trust using social media aligns with Shirky’s idea of group formation and how the Internet can help support and sustain groups. I believe these are more likely to occur using social media today based on the changes that have occured. What else could be different from the results in the Pasek et al. study if it was redone today with the growth of Facebook and Twitter?