In the article,Competition and Information Deception in Online Social NetworksBy E. Mitchell Church and Ravi Thambusamy, we are asked to take a look at the causes for the intentional misrepresentation of people lives on their social media accounts. The authors of this article call the misrepresentation of this life image PID (Personal Information Deception) and claim that on OSN’S (Online Social Networking sites) people are compelled through competitive forces with one another to portray a false image of success on their platforms. One of the platforms that I would like to address from our current day that is particularly well known for this misrepresentation is Instagram.
I strongly believe that Instagram, a place once known merely for sharing photos with friends and family, has now been turned into almost a purely business related application. Instagram is now not only a social media application but also a social marketing application. Everyday, more and more people join instagram to become “Travel” and “Lifestyle” photographers and do this as a full time job, and while it may look like they are leading extraordinary lives, in reality most of them are struggling to make ends meet. For example instagram influencer Gaby Dunn once said on her blog “My Instagram account has 340,000 followers, but I’ve never made $340,000 in my life collectively.” In this quote she is trying to tell us that just because she portrays a lifestyle that makes her appear wealthy in reality she isn’t. Just as in Thambasamy and Church’s article where they use the example of the rapper 50 cent portraying signs of wealth on his feed when he had declared bankruptcy (Intro).
Another thing issue brought up in this article is the idea of social status becoming a factor in people’s online identities. In this quote referring to the research results of the article “This key finding of the study confirms the idea that status benefits encourage competition in online settings, and these competitive desires in turn encourage deceptive information practices on OSN sites (Page 279)” It is deemed that people see a benefit in social status when they are viewed well on social media which in turn causes them to feel the need to portray a more successful, aesthetic, and fun lifestyle. I very much agree with this statement as I believe the amount of followers someone has on instagram or facebook when viewed by people gives them a preconceived notion of what social status they are. Alice E. Marwick has a book titled Status Updatethat discusses the branding social media has on us in current day. In this book Marwick discusses the mechanisms that exemplify “social status” on social media (Page 75). For example the amount of “likes” you get on facebook and “retweets” you get on twitter can play a role in someone determining how likable you are.
The point Thambusamy and Church are trying to make in their article is that people reflect something other than reality on their online social networking sites because they feel that it reflects on who they are as person. I can agree that most of the networking apps that exist currently do in fact try to do that and I can personally agree (as I’m sure can many of my peers) that I have been quick to judge people based on their Instagram, Facebook, Etc. I hope that we as a society can work together to try to combat these preconceived notions through looking past people’s social media’s and no longer judging book’s by their covers.