They’ve got nothing on me

Within the online world, it is safe to say you I am invisible in one sense. When I did google myself, the only things that had come up was my old Facebook page, which was displayed within a low budget profile search engine, called the Prolifeengine.com and my high school year book on Scribd.com. Other than that I pretty much have nothing else of me online.

 

I guess the reason would be is that I don’t like or feel comfortable with my information being out there so easy find and access. Of course I do use  Whatsapp  like many others, but it’s completely private. I also used Facebook but that’s private too. So private that it does even come up in on Google, Bing or any other search engines for that matter. But other than that I don’t really use any other social networks.  I am careful who I share my personal information, pictures and videos. Our information is used every single day without our knowledge. For instances, I know number of people whose identities are used by others and claim it as their own. That in itself is scary prospect. Our information is valuable, and its proven everyday by the amount time these social media networks, mobile or another institutions requesting us to do so. I feel like as the internet is new phenomena of our age, that people don’t really comprehend the damages it may cause when using our information.

ME heart it

What better example for an online positive community than one called We Heart It?!

The best thing about We Heart It is that it is a visual free-for-BKLx9ZM7all. Also, users can share everything from landscape photography to funny image macros, from Disney movie stills to outfit photos. After a quick sign-up everyone is free to endlessly scroll through the site’s kaleidoscopic fare, clicking on the ones they like to “heart” and save them. Yes, you can actually save them unlike Instagram.

Apart from a tagging system, there are no words allowed on the website. Members communicate purely through visual expression. To some extent, maybe this is a limitation as people sharing an interest for fashion or photography, for instance, cannot connect to each other.  However, there is a positive side to it – no bullying, offensive or teasing comments under pictures.

For those looking for something in particular, various sections or ‘Inspirations’ are made to facilitate the search. Fancy photos from the Academy Awards? Oscars section is there.

Combining Pinterest’s image-sharing platform with Tumblr’s teenage appeal, We Heart It is a perfect storm of what becomes viral success on the visual Web. It has a hit with 20 million users, who just can’t get enough of it.

Avaaz: the online community designed to help other communities.

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Currently boasting 42 million members in 194 different countries, Avaaz is an online campaigning organisation or community  that wants to drive political and social change for the better. The organisation is unique in how it is run, almost like a democracy.  “Each year, Avaaz sets overall priorities through all-member polls… only initiatives that find a strong response are taken to scale.” As a member of the Avaaz community, you also have the opportunity to propose issues you want to campaign against.

Due to the global reach of the internet, Avaaz has unified online activists to create a voice which is listened to. When Rupert Murdoch set out to further expand his media empire in the UK through buying BSkyB: Avaaz set up an opposing campaign which included “1 million online actions, 30,000 phone calls to MPs and a critical 40,000 submissions into the Government consultation on the BSkyB deal.” As a response to the Cyclone Nargis causing devastation in Burma: “in just ten days, over 25,000 people from 125 countries donated 2 million to support the monks’ relief efforts.”

It could be argued that because the Avaaz community is spread so far across the world, it’s members are limited to signing a petition or making donations. Also, an online community cannot compete with a group unified by more traditional campaigning methods such as direct action. However, in a community this vast in size, each small act of slacktivism is combined to truly make a difference. The website is effective in flagging social or political issues which would otherwise go under the radar.

The global twitter community

When Twitter was first launched in 2006, its growth was huge. Though we already had Facebook, myspace, and many more social networking sites, twitter was original, more open and free; yet somehow managing to bring together people with different interests and voices from across the world into an online community. Twitter gave all generations an unconditional and unrestricted voice.Twitter-Icon

There was something about the use of hashtags, that could bring people from around the world, sparking a conversation on the same topic just by putting a hashtag the end of the tweet. For example take #Jesuischarlie in 2015, after the attacks in Paris, the hashtags became one of the most famous in history, and created huge amounts of support for the people of Paris.

Though other social media platforms showed support as well, twitter allows people to speak their mind more freely. Though in my opinion, that can also be a disadvantage. Particularly with my generation, constantly updating their twitter every second of the day, I do sometimes believe, some thoughts are best kept in your mind. No, I do not need to know in 140 characters that Susan has just has another cheese-string #cheeseobsession.

However, by allowing people to talk to freely, and speak their mind completely, this also comes with the risk of online abuse, which I see as a huge shame with twitter. Particularly with people in the public eye. There is voicing your opinion, but then there is people just being plain rude. Yet I doubt this will ever stop the tweeting phenomenon.

 

 

Cole & Marmalade

I always find myself on social media liking posts of animals all day long, which has lead me to a number of different online communities that are dedicated to pets such as Cole and Marmalade. This is a like page on Facebook that is about two cats, it is mainly pictures of them both that is posted but they also post about more serious topics; rather than just posting pictures of two cute cats.

For example they recently posted on their page about Marmalade having FIV which is basically HIV/AIDS for cats, and how people should adopt cats with FIV not just over look them. This is such a positive thing because it brings attention to FIV which is not as bad as it sounds and how people should not be put off by it when adopting, they have also posted about other pages on Facebook that support cancer patients to bring attention to that as well.

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It has created a online community of cat lovers who regularly engage in conversation with others on the site and can share their favourite photo’s of their own animals, it engages people from all over the world and even if you don’t comment and post you can still enjoy the cute pictures and videos of cats!

People benefit from participating in this online community by meeting people from all over the world who share the same interest as them, which is nice especially if you don’t share the same interests as your friends; I have a few friends who don’t like cats or animals in general but it is a big part of my interests.

Cole & Marmalade Facebook Page

Good ol’ Facebook

For me the most obvious example of an online community would be Facebook. Initially developed in 2004 as a Harvard University social networking site for students, it has succeed exponentially since then, with a gaining of 845 million active users worldwide.
The reason for popularity is that it projects itself as a new communications means. Unlike phones, and emails, users have more alternatives of connecting and communicating with others. Facebooks offers platforms whereby people are able to create personal profile, join groups that share the same interest, share photos and videos with others and most importantly provide an opportunity to connect with others living in different parts of the world. Most recently, Facebook has develop an online phoning system on the Facebook app, where people are able to call others freely by using the Wi-Fi connection oppose to paying for their calls.

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The downfall of Facebook or any other social network provider for that matter, is the legitimises of some of these personal profiles. People can steal and claims others information and photos as their own. Although Facebook has a system where people are able to report the incident, it is not always taken down. Another disadvantage are known as trolls. Trolls are people who post abuse on others profile causing people to feel an immense amount anxiety stress and a times suicidal. The problem is there a certain anonymity within Facebook, where it is difficult to retrieve an accurate identity of someone. Plus as Facebook has confidential obligation, it will not always, unless under special circumstance, i.e. organized crime or terrorists, reveal the true identity others.

YouTube – or rather OurTube

The YouTube community might be one of the most obvious examples of an online community but thats only because it is the most famous.

Other than song covers and horrible BuzzFeed videos, the YouTube community is one of the most amazing platforms for people all around the world to communicate together. Its a hub for talent and potential. So much so, it has become a profession now. Being a YouTuber is a great way of making money while interacting with fans. One of the most famous YouTubers is Zoella, PewDiePie and Superwoman (Lilly Singh) have all gone out to write books, start campaigns and make a difference with their names.

Other artists have used this platform, taking in feedback and support from people who view their videos, to really come into the limelight. One very famous example is Justin Bieber where he became on of the first YouTubers that gained stardom. A recent example is, Troye Sivan who would make music on YouTube and later got signed with a record agency, and now has a top 10 album.

Other than music, documentaries and intellectual talks can also become a mode of discussion. Some documentaries like Understanding the Universe (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_rJKO-ZXeU&list=PLw4zAzjwBP1d5annau67miUKlxoEERFKi), to media and how it helps shape society (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zOQ1jZOj_ho&list=PLJTeB7MU7LRLtGlV6lsRwy_blxV4T1HSs) are just minute examples of the vast community that YouTube is.

However, finding a good video on YouTube is like finding a needle in a haystack. People now have more access to YouTube by syncing it with their smartphones. A survey claims 300 hours of new videos were uploaded to the site every minute, three times more than one year earlier and that around three quarters of the material comes from outside the U.S. The site has 800 million unique users a month. Which is a large number.

It may be a good way of interaction, but if it isn’t a registered account, it may take longer than needed. How do you use YouTube? Can we really live without out? In my personal opinion, I think its the best way to interact, and living without it is near impossible.youtube_reuters_123