Social media is the place for entertaining, making new friends or even promoting products… But to some extents, when you connect the dots and start operating it, you will find above all, social media is the modern “public sphere”. In this writing, I would like to discuss especially Facebook network.
What is “public sphere”?
Basically, “public sphere” is the place where people can come and freely discuss and identify societal problems. Furthermore, “the public sphere as a virtual or imaginary community which does not necessarily exist in any identifiable space” – German philosopher Jürgen Habermas defined. According to that concept, Facebook can be admitted as a public sphere.
How does Facebook operate as a public sphere?
As the place includes all the active users to express their ideas and beliefs, Facebook keeps innovating its operation in order to fulfil public’s demand for discussing. Facebook now timely updating news on the diversity of the field such as entertainment, social news or even political events… Beside utilizing user’s expression by creating groups, hashtags or EdgeRank, Facebook is social media which pioneered in joining in the political action. For example, in the parliamentary election in May 2010, Facebook prompted its users to vote online by having applied the application that can help people vote and participate in debates, votes and petitions.
Being opposed to Habermas’s public sphere concept which excludes a wide range of people, Facebook is open for everyone. Of course, that leads to many consequences. On the contrary of the fact that users must deal with many negative and distort ideologies, Facebook is more democratic and open to discuss issues. Facebook implements the discussing activity by applying the model of disagreement which basically allows people to discuss more and more by exposing users to the perspective that they don’t agree with. Besides, users can actively create their own space such as fanpages or groups to discuss issues with individuals who have the same interest.
Facebook’s roles in creating a “public sphere”
In my point of view, since the effort to make discussions, Facebook in particular and common media in general, are striving to serve public’s interest and ensure both of democracy the “dominant ideology”. It plays a vital role as a place for “encoding and decoding” activities and it is designed to facilitate the sharing both of individual and group of individual.
To sum up, social media holds the main position as public sphere of discourse. The media plays a role as a provider of a medium discuss issues, and the most important: “Media is the sword arm of democracy” (globalethicsnetwork.org).