Political and informative impact of social media: fields of action and comparison with the media

Salvador Enguix Oliver

Abstract

This paper develops a theoretical analysis of the spheres of action of the social network companies proposing the hypothesis that these, like the media, have the nature of political actors, and are not simple channels. To confirm this hypothesis a descriptive methodology is used, based on bibliography and the vision offered by the media about the impact of social networks. In the first place, the fulfillment of the four features mentioned by Borrat (1989) regarding the newspaper as a political actor is reviewed. Secondly, four major areas of political and informational action are proposed for these companies: 1) the creation of communities, 2) the dissemination of content, 3) content filtering and hierarchization, and 4) the direct or indirect funding of political parties. These four areas undoubtedly have political effects on society, effects which can result both in strengthening the democratic quality of our societies and in their detriment. However, and with reference to Borrat’s model on the newspaper, these functions clearly depart from the role of the media in terms of independence and their status as critics objects, as well as in the fact of not generating their own content, which is defining the media.

Keywords

social media; Twitter; Facebook; political journalism

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