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Quinnipiac Social Media Class

Quinnipiac Final Paper – ICM501 – Creative Obfuscation

Quinnipiac Final Paper – ICM501 – Creative Obfuscation

Internet identity, reputation, and deception in the online dating world. Truth and little white lies on the Internet.

Introduction

Several weeks ago, when participating in class, I used the term creative obfuscation. The idea behind it was (and still is) that people of course bend the truth or cover it up, or they lie by omission. Some of these lies are more egregious than others.

For my final paper, I decided to look at what it all means with reference to internet dating. And boy, was there a lot of fodder! Here are some excerpts.

Identity

For many people[1] these days, social media is wrapped with identity, as identity is, in turn, intimately wrapped up with social media. It is often a daily[2] presence in our lives. As Julia Knight and Alexis Weedon discovered, online life and self are increasingly just as important as offline life and self.[3] “In 2008, Vincent Miller’s article in Convergence recognized in our ubiquitous and pervasive media the essential role of phatic communication[4] which forms our connection to the here and now. Social media has become a native habitus for many and is a place to perform our various roles in our multimodal lives, as a professional, a parent, an acquaintance, and a colleague. The current generation has grown up with social media and like the 10-year-old Facebook, Twitter too has become part of some people’s everyday here and now.”[5]

[1] About 39% of the world is online, according to Internet World Statistics. This includes just fewer than 85% of North America and over 2/3 of Europe and Oceania.

[2] According to Pew Research, in 2013, 63% of Facebook users visit the site daily. Just under half (46%) of Twitter users visit that site on a daily basis.

[3] Knight, Julia and Weedon, Alexis, Convergence, ISSN 1354-8565, 08/2014, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp. 257 – 258, Identity and social media

[4] Phatic communications are generally language for the purposes of social interaction rather than the conveying of information or the making of inquiries, e. g. ‘small talk’.

[5] Knight and Weedon, Ibid., Page 257.

Reputation

Quinnipiac Assignment 12 – ICM501 – Creative Obfuscation
Jeff Bates (hemos from Slashdot) at linux.conf.au 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Unlike offline reputation, online reputation can be categorized and quantified. For sites attempting to preserve and promote civility, but which cannot or will not adopt a real-names policy like Facebook’s, reputation scores can sometimes alert other users to an individual’s tendency to be either helpful or abusive. As AS Crane noted in Promoting Civility in Online Discussions: A Study of the Intelligent Conversation Forum[6], “Moderation in combination with reputation scores have been used successfully on the large technology site Slashdot, according to Lampe and Resnick (2004). Slashdot moderation duties are shared among a group of users, who can assign positive or negative reputation points to posts and to other members. Users who have earned a sufficient reputation rating are allowed to participate in moderation if they wish. Meta-moderators observe the moderators for abuse and can remove bad moderators, or reward good moderators by assigning a higher point value to their votes.” In Slashdot’s case, it would seem that good behavior not only is rewarding in and of itself, but it also provides a reward in the form of being granted the ability to police others’ behavior.

[6] AS Crane, 2012, Promoting Civility in Online Discussions: A Study of the Intelligent Conversation Forum, rave.ohiolink.edu, Page 17

Deception

For those who bend the truth on Facebook and other social media websites, some of the consequences are unexpected ones. For example, a ten-year-old child who claims to be thirteen will, in five years, be considered eighteen on the social networking site. This will alter her privacy settings automatically, allowing images to be seen by everyone, including pedophiles.[7]

[7] Olsen, Tyler, 22 April 2013, Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: An Explanation of Deception, Professor Combs English 1010-21

Conclusion

Although it is fairly easy to bend the truth when composing an online dating profile, an in-person meeting will expose the lie to all, and the liar will lose social capital and likely never make it to a second date. More problematic is when a person’s sincerely developed identity does not jibe with their appearance or their birth characteristics. Differences between online verbiage and offline appearance might not have an intentionally malicious origin, and it is entirely possible for online daters to, through ambiguity or poor word choice, appear deceptive and untrustworthy when they may be anything but.

But regardless of the reason for an untruth, online daters care about their reputations and their online and offline appearances. What others think matters to them. Much of that is directly related to the fact that the object behind the use of an online dating site is to meet; the mission is the date. Setting up the date for failure or the loss of face is not in online daters’ best interests and most of them act accordingly in order to assure success or at least prevent and minimize failure and the loss of social capital.

Personal identity matters in the online world, and it is a heady brew of inborn traits, learned and attained characteristics, and identification, desire, and preference. For the person presenting their identity and showing this admixture to all and sundry, what it means to be them, what they think of as the ‘self’, is what is cobbled together from potentially thousands of measurable and nonquantifiable data points in order to present a full picture of their personality. For the recipients of these messages, the potential dating partners and perhaps even more permanent mates, the choice is whether to read or listen to these many messages and accept all or some of them, even if they conflict with or downright contradict the evidence that the recipient can observe or otherwise gather independently.

You are who you were at birth, who you have become, and who you claim to be, and who you think you are. But that does not mean that anyone has to believe you, accept you, or love you.

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Quinnipiac Social Media Social Media Class

Quinnipiac Assignment 10 – ICM501 – Television and the Internet

Television and the Internet

Nielsen estimates that there are some 115.6 million television households in the United States. According to the US Census, over ¾ of all households have at least one computer, and about 95% of those households use it to connect to the Internet. That’s about 122 million households. It’s clear that many American households have both.

Ratings

Quinnipiac Assignment 10 – ICM501 – Television and the Internet
English: Primetime television ratings for 2008 in the Philippines: Blue = GMA Red = ABS-CBN The charted points represented the TV program that had the highest rating for that station for that day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nielsen has had some issues in counting Internet viewing in its ratings systems. A part of this is due to differences in the advertisements delivered (if any), and part is due to pirating. However, Nielsen appears to be, if not getting the details and minutiae quite right, is at least getting the essence correct. What it lists as popular really is popular (although the degree of popularity might not be perfectly represented). As Engler, C. (2011, January 20). The truth about TV ratings, online viewing and sci-fi showsBlastr. [Link] says, “…highly rated shows are streamed more frequently online, sell more DVDs, have higher sales on Amazon and, yes, are pirated more often. When you account for variables that impact all these metrics (e.g., some movies bomb in theaters but later sell well on DVD, younger viewers are more apt to watch things online than older viewers, etc.), we don’t see the crazy variances that you’d expect if ratings weren’t very accurate.”

Adding Online Streaming

As recently as 2013, Nielsen began making the effort to better include online streaming and other means of television content consumption. As Kelly, H. (2013, October 28). Nielsen adds web viewers to its TV ratings. CNN.com. [Link] says, “Shows that don’t include the same ads online as on TV will be counted as part of separate Nielsen Digital Ratings. Shows streamed directly by networks through their own sites and apps typically include the same set of ads, and those viewers are counted towards the traditional Nielsen totals.”

Nielsen’s main purpose is to count program viewership for the purposes of understanding advertising potential. E. g. the more viewers, and the more sustained viewers, the more a content provider can charge for commercials. Hence the need for a connection between online and offline delivery that includes the same advertisements. The networks and other content providers need to, as closely as possible, compare apples to apples. Comparing the delivery of different commercials makes it that much more difficult to achieve a reasonable comparison.

If Nielsen’s purpose were purely to measure viewership without wedding it to advertising, counting clicks and downloads would be easier, and it would not matter what was advertised during any delivery of the content.

Piracy also wouldn’t matter quite so much, at least not vis a vis counting an audience. But speaking of piracy …

Piracy

For networks and other content providers, piracy was and is a huge issue. When we talked about copyright and copyleft, the question arose about the grabbing of content. Who enforces copyright? Who pays when it’s violated? And are the punishments excessive at all?

The uneasy marriage of television and the Internet has spawned an interesting child – Hulu. After all, why were people pirating televised content in the first place? Perhaps, as DVRs made time shifting possible, it was just to allow for platform-shifting. Hulu arose as a response to that, and a way to monetize a far better version and offer it to a paying customer. The thinking was that quality would be its own advertisement, and that most people just wanted a platform shift. They didn’t want to steal from artists or cheat networks. As Braun, J.A. (2013).  Going over the top: Online television distribution as socio-technical system. Communication, Culture & Critique 6(3), 432–458. [Library Link] says, “With Hulu, the networks decided they would instead attempt to draw viewers away from pirated content by hosting higher quality versions of the same videos themselves, while selling advertising against them in an attempt to reclaim some of the revenue they believed they were losing to other sites.”

Most People Are Honest

Many users are more than happy to receive a better quality product and pay a commensurate fee for it. But there are still some who insist on pirating, practically seeing it as a right. As Newman, M. Z. (2012). Free TV: File-sharing and the value of televisionTelevision & New Media 13(6), 463–479. [Library Link] says, “Sharers [also] insist that DVR recordings and downloads are ethically equivalent. The difference between recording a show oneself using a VCR or DVR and skipping commercials and downloading a commercial-free file via BitTorrent is regarded as ethically insignificant.” (Page 469)

So, what is it? Theft? Sticking it to ‘the man’? Platform-shifting by (more or less) innocents? As the debate continues, it shifts away from ethics and morals and into monetization. If content providers can make a little cash even from peer to peer networks, and pay artists, can they continue to claim that they’re being harmed?