Is addiction to social media a thing? Does targeted advertising just feel a little creepy, or is something actually wrong with it?
Does social media actually divide people more than it connects them?
Throughout this series1, I will present notes on something I’m reading—e.g. scientific research, a news article, an opinion piece—as I attempt to create an understanding of social media (known to researchers as “Social Networking Services”) and their role in society.
Along the way, I will present context from adjacent fields and topics, including how Bitcoin works and is regulated, the mental health of children who frequently use websites like YouTube, how Google uses users’ personal information differently than Facebook, and more.
Later, I will also conduct interviews and present original research and reporting that will add to this body of work.
I’m writing these posts as I conduct this work, so sometimes they will be short, scattered notes. Other days, they will be organized, longform articles. Only time will tell what are the best systems for writing, organizing, and sharing my thoughts on this topic, but you’re invited to read along and send me feedback.
The end goal of this series is to create a contextualized understanding of social media that yields meaningful responses to the big questions surrounding Facebook, Google, privacy, democracy, and society. If you’d like to get updates in your inbox
This article was edited on August 10, 2018. You can view this document’s revision history on GitHub.
Originally, I promised updates to this series every week. I’ve retracted this promise to allow for more flexible posting, so I can be as thorough with each article as needed. ⤴︎