Trending this moment: Examining social media platforms as information gatekeepers through Facebook’s Trending topics and Twitter’s Moments
Duguay, Stefanie (2016) Trending this moment: Examining social media platforms as information gatekeepers through Facebook’s Trending topics and Twitter’s Moments. In 66th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association: Communicating with Power, 9-13 June 2016, Fukuoka, Japan. (Unpublished)
For more than a decade, social media platforms have provided networked infrastructures for the flow of news and information. These infrastructures, however, are not neutral in that platforms shape information flows in alignment with their politics (Gillespie, 2010) – business models, competitive strategies, and governing values – which are subsequently realised through their technological architecture. Drawing on emerging frameworks in platform and software studies, I examine two case studies: Facebook’s Trending section and Twitter’s Moments tab, to recognise how platforms influence information flows relating to breaking news and popular headlines. Using José van Djick and Thomas Poell’s (2013) principles of social media logic, I identify how these platforms act as gatekeepers through a combination of authoritative curation and algorithmic personalisation. The resulting social media news landscape steers users toward information exchange within a single platform, bolstering company profits, and favours particular news stories while excluding perspectives represented elsewhere across the web.
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