Tag Archives: essay

Final blog

Saying goodbye is never an easy thing to do. It can be an emotional and difficult experience, whether you’re saying goodbye to a friend, a family member, a place, or a phase of your life. But as much as we might want to avoid it, saying goodbye is an inevitable part of life. In fact, it’s often necessary for us to grow, change, and move forward.

One thing that can make saying goodbye easier is to focus on the positive memories and experiences that you’ve had with the person, place, or thing that you’re saying goodbye to. Remembering the good times can help to ease the pain of the goodbye and leave you with a sense of gratitude for what you’ve had.

Another thing that can help is to take the time to say a proper goodbye. Whether that means having a heartfelt conversation, writing a letter, or simply taking a moment to reflect and say goodbye in your own way, it’s important to acknowledge the significance of what you’re leaving behind.

Of course, saying goodbye can also be an opportunity for growth and new beginnings. Sometimes, saying goodbye to one thing means saying hello to something else that’s even better. By embracing change and the unknown, you can open yourself up to new experiences, new relationships, and new opportunities.

In the end, saying goodbye is a natural part of life. It’s a reminder that nothing is permanent and that everything is always changing. But while saying goodbye may be difficult, it’s also a chance to reflect, to grow, and to move forward. So embrace it, appreciate it, and say goodbye with grace and gratitude.

Essay – False News in the 2016 US Presidential Election

In a survey conducted by the PEW Institute, Facebook was shown to be the leading social media site for adults in the US to obtain news, with 31% of participants regularly getting their information from the site. This figure is not much of a surprise, since Facebook has a certain reputation for being propagators of reactionary information and false news. The aforementioned study also stated that the percentage has been steadily going down in the past few years, which I postulate is likely because of an aging main demographic and the rise of newer social media apps.

My primary issue with Facebook as a possible source for news (and every other social media site, for that matter) is the ability for people to rapidly spread misinformation and a general lack of critical thinking when it comes to such news. A prime example of this phenomena was on full display around the 2016 US presidential election, where disinformation and conspiracy theories ran rampant on Facebook. Of course, this kind of false news has existed forever, but the rise in prominence was especially apparent in the aftermath of such an influential event.

In “Misinformation with Fake News”, Mircea Botei (2017) described this as a turning point, where the public suddenly became more concerned about social media’s possible influence on democracy. Botei further expresses false news as “[an attempt] to appear truthful and thus to be accepted and transmitted further. It is news that tells what the audience wants to hear.”(p. 138) I have to agree with this sentiment, as reactionary headlines are a common sign of an untrustworthy source.

Political campaigns have taken advantage of current media trends to further their reach for decades, using whichever method was most popular at the time. Kathleen Jamieson (1996) mentions the widespread use of radios and television in the 1900s, with her book Packaging the Presidency: A History and Criticism of Presidential Campaign Advertising sourcing the ridiculous advertisements political candidates were able to make about their opponents as an example. Still, the massive coverage of the 2016 US election in particular highlighted this mass move from television to the internet.

Fortunately, some good has come of this tragic spike in false news; many social media sites (including Facebook) were pressured to provide transparency reports over political ad campaigns hosted on their sites, according to Efe Sevin (2021) in “New Data Sources and Presidential Campaigns”. Following the 2016 election, Facebook joined companies like Google and Snapchat in revealing their advertising archives to the greater public (Sevin, 2017). However, we should not underestimate the intentional role that social media companies play in these spaces. Many social media sites are anything but guiltless for the rise of false news and influence of political proceedings; some are just better at hiding their involvement than others. 

In the article “Social media ethics in the data economy: Issues of social responsibility for using Facebook for public relations “ Candace White explains how Facebook uses aggregated data from users to target those who are most vulnerable. This fact directly relates to the presidential election, as Cambridge Analytica—a company hired for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign—was revealed to have stolen user data from over 50 million people through a data breach of Facebook. I have been suspicious of the content and news circulated on Facebook since I first made an account, with this mistrust only growing as I learned more about their unethical business practices. 

All this is to say that there is a distinct need to modify the existing structures that facilitate the spread of false news. Diogo Andrade introduces such an idea in “Paving the way for regulation: how the case against Facebook stacked up”, which lays out a few different strategies that the US was discussing at the time. The most viable and comprehensive solution in my opinion is ending the monopoly Facebook holds as the top company in its field. Andrade mentions dividing up the website (and its acquired companies) into competing forces, creating laws to restrict website’s abilities to harvest private data from users, and “limiting and eroding Silicon Valley’s power” (2019, p. 125).

Although Facebook has only gotten more powerful since the previous articles’ publication in 2019, I still hold onto the hope that future US elections won’t be at the mercy of malicious advertisers and complacent social media giants.


Reference List

BOTEI, M. (2017). Misinformation with Fake News. Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov. Series VII: Social Sciences. Law, 10 (59)(2), 133–140.

Jamieson, K. H. (1996). Packaging the Presidency: A history and criticism of presidential campaign advertising. Oxford University Press, Incorporated.

Queiroz Andrade, D. (2019). Paving the way for regulation: how the case against Facebook stacked up. Observatorio (OBS*), 13(3), 113–128. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/10.15847/obsobs13320191388

Sevin, E. (2021). New Data Sources and Presidential Campaigns. American Behavioral Scientist, 1. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/10.1177/00027642211021634

“Social Media and News Fact Sheet” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (September. 20, 2022) https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/fact-sheet/social-media-and-news-fact-sheet.

White, C. L., & Boatwright, B. (2020). Social Media Ethics in the Data Economy: Issues of social responsibility for using Facebook for public relations. Public Relations Review, 46(5), 101980. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2020.101980

False News

Over time many people turn to social media for information about events that are happening around the world. Many people use social media to campaign for their company, use it to make money, or use it to escape reality and read about what is going on in the world. Sometimes when surfing the web and you go down a rabbit hole finding yourself being focused on a particular event that is taking place. As you come across many social media posts, news articles, and Reddit comments, you may come across some information that is not reliable. For example, while I am invested in a controversial topic, I often come across pages that people use to gain clout by spreading false information to gain more attention. I believe that helping others learn ways to recognize incorrect statement on social media can be beneficial in the long run to avoid spreading false news.

Often, people will come across an article on Facebook, read the article name, and share it without fully knowing what is said in the composition. Then, the article begins to spread like wildfire. Once someone shares that piece on their Facebook, their friends read it, and since they have a connection to you, they believe the misinformation you reposted and often believe it. To avoid this happening to you, review the source and look into other outlets to see if the information is relevant. The PEW research center concluded that roughly a third of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook (Liedke & Matsa, 2022)

Graphs showing where men, women, and teens get their information from.

Another important way to recognize false information in an article is a mental checklist of looking for crucial information on the page. Nowadays, incorrect information is widespread across all social media platforms, and it is up to everyone to identify whether or not it’s a reliable resource. There are lots of people who utilize the internet, and it is up to them to gain web literacy to where start learning how the internet works (Caulfield,2016). So far, to check if the information is valid and truthful, you must look at when it was published, who it was posted by, does the author have credentials, where this information is coming from? and what is the purpose of the information.

checklist for figuring out if the source has false information

Thirdly, another way to detect whether or not the news is true or false is to have a keen eye to spot disinformation. Often when people open their laptops, a little preview of current articles may arise from their computer, and sometimes, it may catch your eye. Then, as you’re reading the article, read it carefully and start researching the topic further. Then, if you come across more websites and the information lines up, and it has reliable authors and provides a list of where they got their information, you are on the right track to see whether or not it is true or false.

Social Media and the Interest have a lot of resources, and often people turn to them when they are researching something or just scrolling through their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. But, unfortunately, sometimes, when using these, it can take you down a rabbit hole, and you may find yourself looking into something, and in the end, it was all a lie. Therefore, it is essential to recognize whether or not the resources are reliable and to start learning the critical factors of when a website is spreading false information. Media manipulation is accurate, and in the article “Media Manipulation and Disinformation online.” Written by Alice Marwick and Rebecca Lewis mention, The extent to which the historically low levels of trust in mainstream media can be traced back to media manipulation is unclear. Still, it is worth noting that distrust of the media can become a self-perpetuating phenomenon (Marwick & Lewis, 2017). Whether or not you use the internet or social media as a source outlet, you must be confident that what you are reading is accurate, and trusting what you read is up to you.


Social Media and News Fact sheet (2022) Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Pew Research Center. Available at: https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/fact-sheet/social-media-and-news-fact-sheet/ (Accessed: March 14, 2023).

Caulfield, M. (2016) https://hapgood.us/2016/12/19/yes-digital-literacy-but-which-one/.

Marwick, A. and Lewis, R. (2017) Media manipulation and disinformation , Media-Manipulation-and-Disinformation-Online-1.pdf. Data and society research institute. Available at: https://www.posiel.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Media-Manipulation-and-Disinformation-Online-1.pdf (Accessed: March 14, 2023).

The post False News appeared first on Kayla's Blog.


Over the years, technology has made significant advancements and continues to strive for betterment in enhancing people’s lives. Today, having an online presence, whether it’s active or passive, has become an essential part of our existence. With the integration of technology in daily life, it has become more effortless to perform everyday tasks. Many traditional activities, particularly the way we receive information and connect with one another, have shifted online.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and others have become many people’s primary source of information because news can be swiftly shared and the platform allows users to voice their opinions easily. According to Cetina Presuel and Martínez Sierra (2019), these social platforms are major players in the concentrated online news market and have significant control over the distribution of information to their users as well as over the organizations and individuals that generate it. It follows that the prevalence of misinformation has emerged as a significant concern due to the freedom of expression allowed with little to no regulations on media that can be instantly shared worldwide. 

These major social platforms operate using unique algorithms that tailor content to the users’ interests and facilitate content sharing with like-minded individuals. TikTok is notorious for its algorithm. Many of the Tiktok stars, like Bella Poarch and Charli D’Amelio are known to have risen to fame after one of their videos randomly went viral as a result of the algorithm.

The Plaid Press, a student-run publication blog published by the advanced journalism class at Granada Hills Charter High School, has published a post called “Tiktok needs to stop” by Crystal Earls who expresses her concern with Tiktok stars who randomly rose to fame. In her post, Earls specifically highlights Lil Huddy and describes him “like others in the TikTok community, [who] has achieved [their] internet fame for no reasons other than shallow over-sexualization and his production of talentless, unoriginal content”. Earls has worded it better than I ever could because this is exactly how many of us think about Tiktok stars, especially those who may be the same age. Earls’ post raises a common concern that “Teenagers hardly know how to do things themselves most of the time, so to think that they are setting an example to tons of others across the world is unnerving and scary”.

Tkhostov et al.(2022) discovered that “false [information]” are totally social constructions, since the data indicate that we tend to trust information that matches with our preexisting beliefs, attitudes, and representations. As a result, there’s a growing concern stemming from the belief that individuals who come across fake news may not be exposed to real news that would encourage them to scrutinize the reliability of the information (Nelson & Taneja, 2018). With fake news consists of false news, polarized content, satire, misreporting, commentary, persuasive information, and citizen journalism (Molina et al., 2019), filters used to regulate posts are useless when the content is coded with other terms relating to anything that would otherwise be banned.  

So how can we combat this phenomenon?

To progress in this direction, the initial action should involve enhancing digital literacy and fostering critical thinking. In the current era, the most effective approach to promote and boost digital literacy and critical thinking is by creating educational content such as posts or videos that align with current trends. Ensuring active participation of students in the learning process will facilitate thorough comprehension and application of the information to their daily lives. 

Having said that, it is equally important for users to take a proactive measure of reporting fake news. Mere disregard of such falsity by scrolling past it may inadvertently worsen the problem as the misinformation could reach someone who lacks the ability to discern its inaccuracy, thus leading to the acceptance of incorrect information. However, I acknowledge that although some users report content, the platform may not deem the content to have violated their guidelines. It is quite discouraging especially since it is an extra step that often asks for details that need some time to fill out. Hence, platforms need to accurately review the content reported in order to encourage reporting and combat the spread of lies and harmful information without becoming overly censorious. 


Cetina Presuel, R., & Martínez Sierra, J. M. (2019). Algorithms and the News: Social Media Platforms as News Publishers and Distributors. Revista de Comunicación, 2, 261–285. https://doi.org/10.26441/rc18.2-2019-a13

Earl, C. (2020, February 21). TikTok needs to stop. The Plaid Press; The Plaid Press. https://theplaidpress.com/2020/02/21/tiktok-needs-to-stop/

Molina, M. D., Sundar, S. S., Le, T., & Lee, D. (2019). “Fake News” Is Not Simply False Information: A Concept Explication and Taxonomy of Online Content. American Behavioral Scientist, 2, 180–212. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764219878224

Nelson, J. L., & Taneja, H. (2018). The small, disloyal fake news audience: The role of audience availability in fake news consumption. New Media & Society, 10, 3720–3737. https://doi.org/10.1177/1461444818758715

Tkhostov, A. Sh., Rikel, A. M., & Vialkova, M. Ye. (2022). Fake News through the Eyes of Three Generations of Russians: Differences and Similarities in Social Representations. Psychology in Russia: State of the Art, 1, 83–102. https://doi.org/10.11621/pir.2022.0106

Twitter’s Path to Citizen Journalism

The current state of social media seems to be facing an intersection, what ensues next will decide how reliable these platforms will truly be. I have been reflecting lots on how I consume my news, information, and speculation online; whether I am looking for it or it is being presented to me. Is the social media we all are consumed by truly democratic? Who is reliable and who calls the shots? After doing some research, I wanted to share my findings regarding our present-day processes of news and journalism as well as the foresight on what may be coming to social networks in the future.

I began this analysis of our social media platforms current state on censorship and free speech with those that have been banned from them. We find ourselves at a confusing point in time where society is craving freedom and truth, yet simultaneously all acknowledging and accepting the misinformation we are provided. As most know, there have been some well-known individuals being removed from all socials across the board. Where I do understand the reasoning behind these decisions, it also reiterates the lack of control us users have over our online profiles and posting. As a society we utilize socials for much more than seeing how our friend’s vacation was, we are given all the recent news and stories occurring around the world (some true, some false). This is one of the best parts to this technology but deciphering what’s reliable and true is what has become difficult. Now seeing people being removed from these platforms with no say revokes our free speech, why is it a journalist can write a full story on a topic they know minimal about with insignificant fact checking but others with a bigger spotlight do? Reading the question, “Is a person with two million followers less likely to get locked out of Twitter for saying the same things as someone with 100 followers?” really got me thinking. We do live in a world filled with noise and much of it is pointless intake, we need to decide what we consume. When I realized there is more of emphasis on who says what rather than what is said is scary. The larger your audience, the more caution you need to take; this removes the whole point of free speech in its truest essence because someone has more followers, they are supposed to expect censorship? “The instinct is to shut them down, shut them up…” (King et al., 2022). This not how we must go about controlling someone else’s speech. Censorship will not restore the problems of those involved, lied to, or excluded from social media. “Libel has been the last defense… Libel laws are clearly inadequate and puny against the enormity of social media, but they are a place to begin. A new reality must, and will in time, get new mechanisms to contend with it” (King et al., 2022).

A new reality, a new social network… This is what brings me to where we are today and what may be coming in the future to our beloved social media platforms. As most know by now, Elon Musk has acquired Twitter, one of the bigger deals we have seen in this space for a while. Now many do not love this move by Musk, but one thing users have connected lots too is citizens journalism. As someone working in the crypto space, more than 90% of my news/information comes from Twitter. Of course, there are unethical and dishonest actors in this space but when you move past them, we are able to gather the most reliable and timely info that would not be brought to society for days in the traditional news space. I am not looking for revolutionary capabilities from Musk and Twitter but rather emphasis and refinement on the current platform. “The concept of the citizen journalist is that they’re on the ground, ordinary people in extraordinary situations, whether they’re Twitter Blue or not” (Bloomberg, 2022). How does this plan get put into place though? Musk shared via Twitter how he loves the platform and its ability to “… disseminate news without an establishment bias” (Musk, 2022). A concept, I had not heard much of until recently but Musk being somewhat in tap with the crypto space understands the high-quality content being produced on Twitter and spoke briefly on it in a Twitter Space that I was in (very cool experience). Each day, we are flooded with misinformation and influential posts that carry much more weight in our mind than we realize. Elon has taken notice to this and has shared his vision for the platform, and I believe there is something special that could be built. As of today, Elon has been trying to formulate a plan to effectively instill a new way of verification for the platform. His recent attempt to change the requirements for Twitter Blue by offering a paid verification in which relies on users acting honestly. Now this received plenty of flack as it appeared more as an economic stunt but nevertheless it is giving the power to regular joes to contribute. (HT, 2022) Musk tweeted, “As Twitter pursues the goal of elevating citizen journalism, media elite will try everything to stop that from happening.” Following this, he does share that “Mainstream media will still thrive, but increased competition from citizens will cause them to be more accurate, as their oligopoly on information is disrupted”(Musk, 2022). With all this being said, I understand both sides respective views, as someone who recently witnessed the false news coming from well-respected sources as the people on the “ground” discussed the real true it was wild to see how mainstream media jumps to conclusions just as fast as the next person.

Taking this all into account, we are at an interesting time for social platforms with regards to censorship, freedom of speech and honesty online. I am thrilled for the growth we will see with respect to citizens journalism and its contribution to effective truthful news deployment. There is still a lot of work to be done but I see Elon’s plan for Twitter and free speech as a positive for our platforms.

Atske, S. (2022, October 6). The role of alternative social media in the news and information environment. Pew Research Center’s Journalism Project. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.pewresearch.org/journalism/2022/10/06/the-role-of-alternative-social-media-in-the-news-and-information-environment/
Bloomberg, G. R. |. (2022, November 24). Elon Musk must preserve Twitter’s most vital function – citizen journalism. Business Standard News. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.business-standard.com/article/international/elon-musk-must-preserve-twitter-s-most-vital-function-citizen-journalism-122112400132_1.html
Elon Musk on ‘citizen journalism’ and ‘oligopoly on information’ in fresh tweet. Hindustan Times. (2022, November 12). Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.hindustantimes.com/business/elon-musk-on-citizen-journalism-and-oligopoly-on-information-in-fresh-tweet-101668225522284.html
Elon Musk, 2022. Quoted Tweets via Twitter
King, L., Williams, R., & Clay, G. (2022, May 19). Censorship isn’t the solution to social media’s ills. InsideSources. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://insidesources.com/censorship-isnt-the-solution-to-social-medias-ills/
MacCarthy, M. (2022, October 12). Government efforts to censor social media should be transparent. Forbes. Retrieved November 28, 2022, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/washingtonbytes/2022/10/05/government-efforts-to-censor-social-media-should-be-transparent/?sh=48f7036270cf

Is Social Media That Democratic?

The Internet has revolutionised how people acquire information. Humans are social creatures, and one of the biggest gifts given to us by the internet is social media. Social media has transformed the way we communicate with others and more likely empowered individual users by protecting their freedom of speech and expression. Users on social media can connect with other users from different parts of the world within seconds. Content creation and dissemination have become easier than ever. However, the purpose of this essay is to examine the downside of these advantages, i.e., the democratic nature of social media. Considering how accessible and widespread social media is, has it potentially made existing problems even worse?

Social media has questioned many existing norms and challenged traditional news media and institutions. However, some problems have amplified since the creation of social media. Online harassment and cyberbullying have now become mainstream and are mostly facilitated by social media (Persily & Tucker, 2020). Although social media was once thought to be a place where all voices were heard, online harassment and widespread intimidation have left some social groups, like people of colour, females, certain religious groups, and people of certain age groups, the victims of such encounters. This encounter has led disadvantaged social groups to take less part in online social platforms than they would wish (Persily & Tucker, 2020).

One of the core elements of democracy is diversity of viewpoints, and an individual can make informed decisions when they are presented with diverse viewpoints and opinions. News is one such source that fosters diversity of viewpoints and helps democracy thrive. News can help produce “positive externalities” that in fact benefit human society by bringing about policy changes and a redefinition of the roles of political parties and institutions (Persily & Tucker, 2020). However, due to fewer regulations for news generation on social media, it has led to enormous disinformation and misinformation on online social platforms. It is crucial to note that social platforms are a business model that exists to make money by presenting users with content that is both controversial and tailored specifically to them; this is referred to as “algorithmic gatekeeping” (Stark et al., 2020). This business model has sort of been flawed when considering the democratic stand that it has taken. 

Algorithmic gatekeeping has given rise to “filter bubbles” (i.e., content tailored to the user’s personal preference) and “echo chambers” (i.e., showing opinions that align with the user’s preference). Hence, algorithmic gatekeeping presents the user with news that is tailored specifically for them. This one-sided view of society and topics could lead to fragmentation and polarization. Fragmentation is defined as the “disintegration of society into smaller sub-units that no longer form a cohesive whole, induced by individualized media exposure” (as cited in Stark et al., 2020), while polarization means “ideological division of a society into different (extreme) political camps” (Stark et al., 2010). Hence, with fragmentation and polarization comes a declining social consensus on major societal issues, and society is more divided than ever. Although, social media has led to more news being generated, for an individual user it does not necessarily mean diverse. The user often gets what they want and what they like through this algorithmic gatekeeping. Due to this, diverging views are often marginalized, and disengaging with views that are ideologically different has become easier (Kent, 2013). Lastly, apart from the algorithm the content that is being shared to us is coming from the user that we trust and know. For instance, considering India’s situation, fake news stories on WhatsApp revolve around the idea of nationalism and nation building as they connects user emotionally and make fact checking less important (Bali & Desai, 2019). 

In a nutshell, social media has always given opportunity to the individual user to create and share content, and perform their right of free speech. However, the problem lies in the abuse of free speech on social media and its algorithmic gatekeeping. Humans are so engrossed on social media platforms that their decisions in real life are shaped by the information they perceive on online social platforms, and this is where the problem lies (Margetts, 2018). Social media has the power to bring large-scale policy changes and reforms to institutions, but with the current structure of social media and extreme polarization, the changes are nowhere near. Hence, lawmakers and tech giants should work together to structure an online space that is safe for all the users, promotes diverse content and free from any manipulation or filtering. As the quote says, “Unity in Diversity.”


Bali, A., & Desai, P. (2019). Fake news and social media: Indian perspective. Media Watch, 10(3), 737-750. https://doi.org/10.15655/mw/2019/v10i3/49687

Kent, M. (2013). Using social media dialogically: Public relations role in reviving democracy. Public relations review, 39(4), 337-345. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubrev.2013.07.024

Margetts, H. (2018). Rethinking democracy with social media. Political Quarterly, 90(S1). https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:8d51efd0-ede2-450c-9f96-5b962a2d9989/download_file?file_format=application%2Fpdf&safe_filename=Ch%2B9%2B%2BMargetts%2B-%2BRethinking%2Bdemocracy%2Bwith%2Bsocial%2Bmedia%2Bfinal.pdf&type_of_work=Journal+article

Persily, N., & Tucker, A. (Eds.). (2020). Social media and democracy : The state of the field, prospects for reform. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press  https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108890960

Stark, B., Stegmann, D., Magin, M., & Jurgens, P. (2020). Are algorithms a threat to democracy. The rise of intermediaries: A Challenge for Public discourse. https://algorithmwatch.org/de/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Governing-Platforms-communications-study-Stark-May-2020-AlgorithmWatch.pdf



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Essay #1

As a social media user, I want to warn people who follow me to be careful. For some reason, social media is not where you come to see your friends as it used to be the fun of it. Instead, I feel as though I am being fed information. I now see more outrageous accounts that spew hate and try to influence my beliefs to match what I see on platforms. My Facebook is filled with massive amounts of news from accounts that I do not remember following; they have very strong opinions towards specific topics that are very hateful to minorities and vulnerable groups in our society. I am trying to understand why this is happening, and I have been researching to give you information on how our behaviours are being collected. This is to educate the public to utilize the internet carefully as it is a shadow of its old self.

If you see on Twitter, everyone here can agree that we have at least ten bots followers. Most people do not get retweets; instead, they get that random one that gets you excited, and then you realize it’s a fake account again. The article discusses bots and how these bots essentially mimic our behaviours and can be utilized to push traction on news that aims to convince us for political gain (UC, 2022). These bots are created by people who are essentially employees at for-profit corporations that are paid to influence behaviour (UC, 2022). An example is in the last United States elections; the Russian Internet Research Agency hired people who could understand American culture and speak good English to push news, comments and like posts that rile up the population (UC, 2022). These accounts aim to polarize the American public to the point that they would undermine our government and put us on a path to a falling empire (UC, 2022). This is inherently the goal of bots and the cause for their growing number; it is so bad that 8.5% of Twitter accounts are bots (UC, 2022). This explains why you have that one loyal follower that gives you a retweet every time you tweet.

Another interesting journal by Bansal writes about the patchwork of policy working to fend off misinformation (Bansal, 2019). He discusses how the US election created doubt in American democracy, and many experts confirmed that foreign influences played a path in that election. Multiple groups on Facebook that had bots were influenced strongly (Bansal, 2019). Facebook had to roll out sweeping measures, which surprisingly worked and provided relief. However, there is still animosity on Twitter with the hate groups and negative/fake news getting more aggressive in micro-targeting. The new wave of social media sensation is a prime example of this; many young men and almost every person on the planet now know Andrew Tate. The individual was not someone I saw on my page a few weeks ago, but now I cannot stop seeing him after googling him once. It is horrible on Facebook and TikTok.

Governments have started releasing legislation to punish people who push fake news to sway the public. Canada, Singapore, France, Brazil and Egypt have some of the most severe punishments. Another example is the study “SCM,” which presented results on research on a Facebook platform, showing that most people use comments to gauge false and real news (Kluck, 1970). The growing number of bots can, therefore, either undermine factual information or uplift fake news in the worst-case scenario. The article by Beshai (2018) utilizes nodes to illustrate how deep and far false news travels compared to real news on Twitter; very stark imagery called cascades is formed. 3D tools demonstrate how broad and deep false and true news travel (Beshai, 2018). The study uses a visualizing this type of data where “breadth is (how many times a given tweet is retweeted) corresponds to the width of the tree, and depth (how many “generations” of retweeting occur) corresponds to the height” (Beshai, 2018). This imagery provides a more straightforward interpretation of the state of our situation. This is a wake-up call for the public to be wary and vigilant in consuming information.

I am not here to spread doom and gloom but to inform the public that this is real and could affect our society. Hence, I will provide insight into how Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms can reduce how false news penetrates our system. The study called “Real Solutions for Fake News?” (2019) states that using disputed news tags can help inform the public of inaccuracy by about 10% from the base of 29% who believed initially. The other tag used in this study is false news which helped reduce the spread from the base of 29% to 16%, a 13% reduction (Clayton, 2019). I believe some corporate social responsibility is warranted, and companies should invest more in fact-checking to protect society.

Finally, I believe guides from the article “Fake News” will help reduce society’s vulnerability. Questions I recommend asking oneself are: “Does the article come from an established, credible and rigorously fact-oriented news organization such as ABC, The Guardian or The Wall Street Journal? If not, encourage students to consider the general character of the publication: how are its stories presented? Who owns the organization, and are they interested in promoting a particular view?” (Henry, 2020)Other possibilities are checking the URL link, checking for satire, using fact-checking websites, a simple google search and various types of bias (Henry, 2020). Confirmation bias is one that I found myself falling in tune with some news outlets. This could be as simple as stereotypes about a place, and then a story comes up that could run as evidence for the said stereotype. The last article shows how the use of fact-checking, either imposed or voluntary, reduces the spread of fake news by 25% (Chadwick, 2021). The study also highlights the reduction of false news sharing by 67% per viewer by educating them on fact-checking and increases their sharing of fact-checked news by 58% (Chadwick, 2021). Hence, I believe being vigilant in self-awareness can be a massive tool for navigating the internet in these times of upcoming mid-term elections.


Beshai, P. (2018, March 9). Cover stories: Visualizing the spread of true and false news on social … Retrieved November 9, 2022, from https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.aat4382

Bansal, S. (2019, October 4). The patchwork of policy working to fend off misinformation. Centre for International Governance Innovation. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.cigionline.org/articles/patchwork-policy-working-fend-misinformation/

Clayton, K., Blair, S., Busam, J. A., Forstner, S., Glance, J., Green, G., Kawata, A., Kovvuri, A., Martin, J., Morgan, E., Sandhu, M., Sang, R., Scholz-Bright, R., Welch, A. T., Wolff, A. G., Zhou, A., & Nyhan, B. (2019, February 11). Real solutions for fake news? measuring the effectiveness of general warnings and fact-check tags in reducing belief in false stories on social media – political behavior. SpringerLink. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11109-019-09533-0

Chadwick, A., Vaccari, C., & Kaiser, J. (2021, March 17). The amplification of exaggerated and false news on social media: The roles of platform use, motivations, affect, and ideology. figshare. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://repository.lboro.ac.uk/articles/journal_contribution/The_amplification_of_exaggerated_and_false_news_on_social_media_the_roles_of_platform_use_motivations_affect_and_ideology/14223083

Henry, E., Zhuravskaya, E., & Guriev, S. (2020, June 4). Checking and sharing alt-facts. SSRN. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3597191

Kluck, J. P., Schaewitz, L., & Krämer, N. (1970, January 1). [PDF] doubters are more convincing than advocates. the impact of user comments and ratings on credibility perceptions of false news stories on social media: Semantic scholar. undefined. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Doubters-are-more-convincing-than-advocates.-The-of-Kluck-Schaewitz/f32cfce6e8ec2331481a300085ff39e99ecaac6b

UC, S. B. (2022, November 8). How is fake news spread? bots, people like you, trolls, and. Center for Information Technology and Society – UC Santa Barbara. Retrieved November 8, 2022, from https://www.cits.ucsb.edu/fake-news/spread

Democratic Data

It’s almost impossible to avoid being on social media. I receive updates from my school, friends, family, and organizations I’m involved in through social media. I’ve tried to take breaks, but the fear of missing out on something gravely important, like a friend forwarding a reel, keeps me habitually checking notifications. With increased usage of social media comes the collection of vast amounts of personal data on every user. We’ve grown accustomed to sharing more of our lives than others would ordinarily see, and with that comes the natural concern for personal privacy. But what we share can be used on a larger scale to analyze information about our personality, voting habits, and personal beliefs, and target us with ads and posts aimed to sway our political leanings. Can data then be used fairly within a democracy, if it can also be used to manipulate voters?

Data reveals who we are. It can predict how we will behave, what we believe in, who we will vote for. It is a given that our online data is being shared, from the moment we agree to privacy policies. There is little we can do to mitigate this personal privacy breach other than opting out of the odd cookie or choosing to stay off of social media. Unfortunately, the latter option is impossible for those who receive updates from their schools, workplaces, friends and family, and public services from social media feeds. Data use is now an unavoidable part of democracy, but not a wholly negative one. Political parties can use data to learn the needs of their voters to determine which issues to focus on in their campaign, lending publicity to important issues (Hankey et al., 2018). Though social media is widely cited as negatively affecting democracy, it cannot be said that it is a universally poor resource for information. Social media invites people who would not usually have a platform to participate visibly in social and political issues. But this can be explored too; our behaviour is influenced by that of others. If we can see how many people support an issue, we are more likely to become involved (Margetts, 2018).

This is not a new part of democracy. Advertisers and politicians alike market to certain demographics with messages that invoke a reaction based on personal experience. The difference is the scale of information available for use in political campaigns and the detailed profiles that can be created for each voter (Hankey et al,. 2018). If politicians build social media campaigns using thousands of data points to identify statements that may sway voters, the information being spread is likely false or only partly honest (Amer & Noujaim, 2019). Rather than being a true reflection of their ideas and goals, their platform becomes untrustworthy. A candidate may authentically intend to curb carbon emissions, but a quotable statement on environmentalism will also draw the attention of left-leaning voters who are on the fence. This creates a political process that is closer to a popularity contest than a democratic election, visible in the personal insults levied at political candidates based on their appearance, age, and gender, rather than their political platform and qualifications. 

The 2019 documentary The Great Hack features Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting company that processed data points on American voters to determine who could be persuaded through targeted ads to vote for the Republican party. Their involvement in the campaign led many to wonder who can rightfully view and use personal data. Is it still democratic to intentionally influence voters with the aid of data that can identify each person’s personality, personal connections, personal history, and political opinions? Even if the voter alone is responsible for what they put on their ballot?  

Political campaigns increasingly rely on social media to directly address voters, as opposed to using mediums like news outlets that require intermediaries (Sahly A. et al, 2019). With that freedom to discuss their platforms, politicians may stretch the boundaries of a democratic election by discouraging respectful and productive debate. In the 2016 presidential campaign Donald Trump was known for using conspiracy theories and false information circulated by extremist groups to demean fellow politicians and incite anger among his supporters (Marwick, A. & Lewis, R., 2017). This reads like a description of a soon-to-be authoritarian, rather than a candidate for presidency in a democratic country. With inflammatory statements, political issues can quickly become a collection of misinformation and disinformation that, coupled with strong loyalty to either the ‘left’ or the ‘right’, create a prime environment for uninformed and emotional voting. People under a democracy should make freely formed decisions. If social media were truly democratic, its main function would not be profit. Social media companies need to make money from freely downloadable apps. Advertisement and the sale of data are the main sources of income for these corporations, which means users are the product (Mod, 2017). Advertisers buy data to determine effective marketing strategies to target specific audiences. Even more invasive and morally questionable are the political campaigns that collect data on voters, with the aim of gaining their support. A democracy by definition is a system that is governed by and for the people. With data gathered from social media used to purposefully aggravate or polarize, democratic elections become akin to marketing campaigns. As social media is now inextricable from democracy, it will need to be considered as such, and regulated to prevent extremism and manipulation.

Works Cited:

Amer, K. & Noujaim, J. (Directors). (2019). The Great Hack [Film]. Netflix & The Othrs.

Hankey, S., Morrison, J., & Naik, R. (2018). (rep.). Data and Democracy in the Digital Age

Margetts, H. (2018). Rethinking democracy with social media. Political Quarterly90(S1).

Marwick, A., & Lewis, R. (2017). (rep.). Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online

Mod, C. (2017, January 13). How I Got My Attention Back. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/2017/01/how-i-got-my-attention-back/#.djqfcpajo 

Sahly, A., Shao, C., & Kwon, K. H. (2019). Social Media for Political Campaigns: An Examination of Trump’s and Clinton’s Frame Building and Its Effect on Audience Engagement. Social Media + Society, 5(2). https://doi.org/10.1177/2056305119855141

Women. Life. Freedom.: An Analysis of Iran’s Protests and Digital Democracy

While there have always been citizen movements and protests throughout history, the introduction of social media has added a new layer to these events. Notably, Iran has seen several protests since the Islamic regime took over in 1979. Iran’s Green Movement in 2009 marked the first widespread protests against the totalitarian regime. In recent months, nation-wide protests in Iran were catalysed by the tragic murder of 22-yeard-old Mahsa Amini who died at the hands of Iran’s “morality” police for simply failing to entirely cover her hair. Beyond the political aspect, these events raise the question: what tools are citizens using in Iran and how have they changed over the years? Could this not only reveal the democratization that digital media affords, but also mark the democratization of Iran entirely? This essay will argue that social media platforms create democratic spaces for dialogue. An analysis of Iran’s recent protests reveals the democratic digital space that plays a role in documentation and producing digital evidence, allows information to transcend borders, and how this can unfortunately be hindered by the government through censorship.

Firstly, social media plays a vital role in documentation and producing digital evidence. Gender inequality and the disregard for human rights have been inscribed in Iran’s legal system and decades of discrimination and oppression have led to several uprising movements against the horrific government. Social media’s role in the recent protests has been multi-faceted and while it is not necessarily a central driver in mobilization, it is certainly a helpful tool. Social media creates a democratic space where citizens can “[spread] awareness and solidarity” and offers “the ability to witness your fellow citizens and your fellow women taking a stand” which certainly creates an incentive to mobilize (Alterman, 2022, para. 6). Digital media helps document and circulate the injustices occurring which consequently fuels protests. This documentation creates a digital footprint and essentially archives this historic moment. So, while the democratization of digital media does not determine “the exact shape and form of protest, movements, or the eventual movement to democracy” (Alterman, 2022, para. 6), it does offer an opportunity to share information, critical updates, and news. According to Andrea Ratiu (2022), because traditional media is heavily biased and controlled by the Islamic regime, many Iranians turn to digital media for their news — Whatsapp, Telegram, Instagram, and Clubhouse being the most popular sources. For example, Clubhouse has become a powerful tool for Iranians to circulate opinions and document the recent events (Khalaji, 2022). Clubhouse allows users to join drop-in meetings and conversations virtually, creating a public sphere like space. Expect this “public sphere” is open to the underserved, including both men and women.

card queen of hearts cutting her hair in protest and crying. her hair is blue and the card is spades.

Moreover, digital media allows information to transcend borders and unites voices. Unlike traditional media, social media creates opportunity for dialogue and two-way engagement, both inside Iran and internationally. According to a Pew Research Center study, 86% of Americans get their news online through their phones and 53% get their news specifically from social media (Shearer, 2021). Twitter, for example, is used by 23% of Americans, and more than half of those users get their daily news on the app (Atske, 2021). These numbers point to the reliance on social media for news and the important role social media plays in circulating information. Iran’s nation-wide protests have not been solely confined within borders, but have traveled worldwide, with people amplifying Iranian voices. In this way, social media helps highlight the issue so that Iran is not isolated. Evidently, digital media is a critical tool for marginalized people around the world (Ratcliffe, 2022).

                   Artist: Mahdieh Farhadkiaei

For instance, many artists outside Iran have band together in solidarity for Iranian women’s freedom. Many Iranian artists are creating powerful pieces to spread awareness and fuel the conversation surrounding the tragic injustices Iranian citizens face daily. These brave people speaking out against the regime are part of a larger counterpublic: “a subset of publics that stand in conscientious opposition to a dominant ideology and strategically subvert that ideology’s construction in public discourse” (Fattal, 2018, p. 1). This counterpublic is manifested in forms of feminist Iranians, artists, singers, authors, activists, leaders, and many others that unite for the same reason: they are tired of this horrific regime that hinders their basic human rights.

Combines an image of the Azadi (Freedom) tower with Matisse’s dancers and the ‘women, life, freedom’ protest slogan.

This piece combines an image of the Azadi (Freedom) tower with Matisse’s dancers and the ‘women, life, freedom’ protest slogan. Artist: Jalz

Essay: Filter bubbles and their creation of echo chambers and polarizing viewpoints


Algorithms lurk beneath the surface of an individual’s every search and click on websites like Google and Facebook, gathering a user’s data to display information the company believes the user wants to see. These algorithms are portrayed as helpful to the user tailoring their experience in a personalized manner so that they may obtain the information that is correct for them (Google’s Search Algorithm and Ranking System – Google Search, n.d.). However, there is a more nefarious side effect of collecting data, that side effect is called a filter bubble. A filter bubble is an abstract concept to explain an online lens an individual may see through when an algorithm takes their data and only provides them with information representative of that data (Techopedia, n.d.). Filter bubbles are nefarious as their application sculpts a user’s point of view by continuously reinforcing their original viewpoint, blocking them from gaining a deep understanding and doing so without them realizing that it is happening. On the other hand, if the user is getting the information they want, then why does it matter to know all sides? While asking for and being presented with data the user wants to see may seem efficient and ideal in concept, the information the user cannot see deters them from knowing all sides of the coin restricting the user from obtaining a truly objective answer. To gain deeper insight, a user must be shown a breadth of answers. The solution to getting around filter bubbles and accessing that breadth of answers starts with understanding what effects they may have on the user. Such effects may hinder a person’s ability to profoundly question and obtain a well-rounded answer, due to filter bubbles and their propensity toward echo chambers, and polarizing viewpoints.

Echo chambers

Due to filter bubbles, a person’s ideologies tend to isolation (Berman and Katona, 2020). This isolation propels the person to seek information that reinforces their initial viewpoint, creating echo chambers. When an individual has an isolated view on a subject and they are searching for answers, they may gravitate towards information that instils confirmation bias on their point of view. Research has shown that people do not prefer to use opposing information to alter their views but instead will use the information they find that confirms their original viewpoint to double down on what they already believe (Kappes et al., 2020). Even if a user specifically searches for an opposing point of view, regardless of the information brought forth to them through filter bubbles, the user will tend to agree with the information that pertains to their isolated viewpoint. This propulsion towards their initial point of view builds an echo chamber from other users that have similar beliefs, thus confirming their own beliefs.

Echoing beliefs of a user’s viewpoints is encouraged and projected by social media groups that have aligning viewpoints of the user. Groups on social media platforms like Facebook are formed by like-minded people who join to have their views confirmed (Vicario et al., 2016a). When social media platforms allow the creation of groups coupled with algorithms that perpetuate confirmation bias, the ability to find a space that projects and confirms a user’s biased views allow the user to exist in an echo chamber.

An individual that joins a social media group that has aligning viewpoints ends up reverberating and strengthening their own viewpoints within that group. Vicario et al. (2016b) finds that when communities create homogeneous clusters (Facebook groups for instance) with like-minded people, these clusters become the primary driver of information isolation. Furthermore, Dandekar et al. (2013) devised a model that shows homophilous networks paired with an individual’s biased assimilation results in a more extreme view of information pertaining to their initial viewpoint. Therefore, the reverberation of the individual’s pre-existing reinforced views within a like-minded group on social media acts to create echo chambers that perpetuate information isolation.

Polarizing viewpoints

The by-product of echo chambers is that they tend to deepen polarizing viewpoints. Filter bubbles hinder users from expanding their viewpoints past their own, and this lack of expansive awareness generates polarizing societal views (Min et al., 2019). It is understood that echo chambers emerge from confirmation bias, but when a website’s filter bubble inducing algorithm contains social filtering mechanisms, these mechanisms have been shown to strengthen social polarization and disjoint echo chambers further (Geschke et al., 2019). Filter bubbles exacerbate social polarization as algorithms with social filtering propel the user towards echo chambers that provide confirmation bias.

Of the many infinite issues that may be addressed online, viewpoints on political topics are often inherently polarizing in nature and on the issue of Brexit, social media echo chambers increased social polarization. A study and analysis done on over 1 million Facebook users that searched for Brexit information in 2016 revealed their search results influenced polarization on the perception of Brexit (Vicario et al., 2017). The echo chambers Facebook created with their filter bubble inducing algorithms, socially and politically polarized the matter of Brexit by filtering search results and only showing results that were congruent to a user’s initial viewpoint.

Not only did filter bubbles induce social and political polarization on the issue of Brexit, but filter bubbles also induced social and political polarization during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Analytical testing done by Guo et al. (2020) on over 50 million tweets from Twitter suggested social and political polarization of the presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump. Like Facebook, Twitter played a part in the social polarization of what information was presented to the user based on the sites’ respective algorithms. More specifically, socially polarized information pertaining to Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. In combination, polarization and the creation of homogeneous communities or echo chambers were further exacerbated by filter bubbles during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.


When an individual uses social media and search engine platforms to try to access true information, how that individual receives that information and what part of the truth they receive depends on the website’s algorithms and the data gathered about the user. This selective and filtered process creates the phenomenon known as a filter bubble and while seemingly harmless and at times thought of as efficient, the filter bubble has a more nefarious side. This nefarious side being, algorithm induced filter bubbles perpetuate echo chambers, and polarizing viewpoints. These by-products that filter bubbles perpetuate are significant because they all have the ability to sculpt the mind of the user and propel them toward a singular, isolated ideological viewpoint without them even realizing it’s happening. Homogenous clusters called echo chambers allow a singular viewpoint of an issue to be chorused, thus strengthening this viewpoint through confirmation bias. These self-serving echo chambers lead to further polarization on society and their points of view regarding all matters, but particularly social polarization that is political in nature. The social polarization echo chambers cause in social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter divides and reinforces a user towards their initial viewpoint, giving them information filtered specifically for them through their algorithms social filtering mechanisms. One by-product of filter bubbles begets the other and the sum of the whole stops an individual from being able to ask thoughtful questions and receive well-rounded, deep answers to those questions.


Berman, R., & Katona, Z. (2020). Curation Algorithms and Filter Bubbles in Social Networks. Marketing Science, 39(2), 296–316. https://doi.org/10.1287/mksc.2019.1208

Dandekar, P., Goel, A., & Lee, D. T. (2013). Biased assimilation, homophily, and the dynamics of polarization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110(15), 5791–5796. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1217220110

Dwoskin, E., Stanley-Becker, I., & Kelly, H. (2020, November 4). Trump’s early victory declarations test tech giants’ mettle in policing threats to the election. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/11/03/misinformation-election-social-text/

Geschke, D., Lorenz, J., & Holtz, P. (2019). The triple-filter bubble: Using agent-based modelling to test a meta-theoretical framework for the emergence of filter bubbles and echo chambers. British Journal of Social Psychology, 58(1), 129–149. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12286

Google’s Search Algorithm and Ranking System—Google Search. (n.d.). Retrieved March 26, 2021, from https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/algorithms/

Guo, L., Rohde, J. A., & Wu, H. D. (2020). Who is responsible for Twitter’s echo chamber problem? Evidence from 2016 U.S. election networks. Information, Communication & Society, 23(2), 234–251. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2018.1499793

Kappes, A., Harvey, A. H., Lohrenz, T., Montague, P. R., & Sharot, T. (2020). Confirmation bias in the utilization of others’ opinion strength. Nature Neuroscience, 23(1), 130–137. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-019-0549-2

Min, Y., Jiang, T., Jin, C., Li, Q., & Jin, X. (2019). Endogenetic structure of filter bubble in social networks. Royal Society Open Science, 6(11), 190868. https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.190868

Techopedia. (n.d.). What is a Filter Bubble? – Definition from Techopedia. Techopedia.Com. Retrieved February 22, 2021, from http://www.techopedia.com/definition/28556/filter-bubble

Vicario, M. D., Vivaldo, G., Bessi, A., Zollo, F., Scala, A., Caldarelli, G., & Quattrociocchi, W. (2016a). Echo Chambers: Emotional Contagion and Group Polarization on Facebook. Scientific Reports (Nature Publisher Group), 6, 37825. http://dx.doi.org.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/10.1038/srep37825

Vicario, M. D., Bessi, A., Zollo, F., Petroni, F., Scala, A., Caldarelli, G., Stanley, H. E., & Quattrociocchi, W. (2016b). The spreading of misinformation online. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 113(3), 554–559. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1517441113

Vicario, M. D., Zollo, F., Caldarelli, G., Scala, A., & Quattrociocchi, W. (2017). Mapping social dynamics on Facebook: The Brexit debate. Social Networks, 50, 6–16. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socnet.2017.02.002

Essay Two

My Experience as An Online Publisher

As a person who was born in the 2000s, I have grown up in the blogging era. However, I have never tried writing a blog before, so PUB101 has given me the chance to be an online publisher.

It was not easy for me to write something every week because I am not usually written a diary or a blog before. Even creating one is a challenge for me. Writing a blog is like writing a diary, because in the diary, I can express what I think and how I feel. But the difference is that this diary are for public, anyone can read it and I also need to edit my diary many times before I can actually publish it. “The genius of the blog was not in the note-taking, it was in the publishing. The act of making your log-file public requires a rigor that keeping personal notes does not. Writing for a notional audience — particularly an audience of strangers — demands a comprehensive account that I rarely muster when I’m taking notes for myself. I am much better at kidding myself my ability to interpret my notes at a later date than I am at convincing myself that anyone else will be able to make heads or tails of them. Writing for an audience keeps me honest.” (Doctorow, 2021). I am actually at first not comfortable about sharing my thoughts on a public space like the internet, I also do not like to share my social media account because I want to be anonymous in an open space like this. But every week, I start to understand blogging a bit more, and I start to like it a bit.

I saw people use WordPress a lot, but their blog design is usually not easy to find the menu, and hard to see all the posts, after I tried it out myself, I can see how hard it is to use WordPress. I have some basic knowledge about graphic design but a blog is quite different from designing a book or a magazine. I am also not good with coding so I did not choose to create my theme. It took me at least a few weeks for me to find the right theme for my website and after a few tries, I can finally find the right theme that not only can change the color, but also the layout and typography. The color I try to approach is the color of tea, a bit yellow, orange and brown. At first, I choose a pink color because I want my blog to look cute, but I do not see this color as popular for the website to the audience so after researching, I found that the orange and brown colors are warmer like my website name “a cup of tea” and friendlier to the audience. I also change my layout that can help the audience easily approach any content and post I published, one of them is the menu that I have to categorize depending on the content and have to find the way the menu can show not only just menu but can lead the audience to actual post I published. After I change my layout and menu, I do personally found that it is easier for me to find things around my website and for my audiences as well. It is not because my audience does not know how to find a post, I want my website can be as friendly and easy to access as possible. The easier to access, the more audiences will willingly approach my blog.

“The best and worst thing about the information age is the ability and our penchant for sharing every damn thought that enters our minds. When designing, testing, and marketing our digital products, we feel compelled to blog our findings, tweet our opinions, and speak about the shit that works and doesn’t work. It doesn’t take long for opinions to morph from one organization’s experience, to industry-wide opinion, to black and white standards and best practices.” (Gertz, 2015). Throughout the first few weeks, I can see some of my peers’ blog designs quite similar to each other, and not only that we could have the same thought about ideas for our blogs. I am sure that not only do I have ideas for movie reviews and blog design. But the competition between me and other movie reviews blogs is the tone and the way they write the reviews. I can be quite behind in writing, but I hope that my design can keep the audience staying and reading my blog. I do try and test quite a few ideas, but in the end, choosing a design that simple and easy to see is the best decision I made for my blog design.

From the first week, I have set the ideal for my blog to be about movie and book reviews, so my target should focus on anyone who likes films and books but hesitates about watching or reading because they do not know if the films or the books fit them or not unless they read some reviews. But because I thought only movies and books are a bit dry and cannot approach a variety of the audience, so I also write blogs about my thoughts on what happened around me and the news. I imagined that there will be a large number of people who will access my blog because the movies I reviewed are mostly recently and still available in the theatre. However, after some weeks, the number of people who access my blog is not much, only one to two people stop to read the movie review. The reason for that is probably because my review is quite short and does not give enough information to the audience. So it does not help them decide if they should watch the movie or not. After six weeks, I do try to write a bit more on each of my blogs, but it is a challenge to recall what I watch and write down a review spoiler-free for everyone. But I do improve my blog with grammar and I try to use easier words that anyone can read and understand my writing.

I think I am providing artistic value to my audience because each film is artwork. I appreciate not only the art in the films but also the messages that each film has given to the audience, so that is why I want to share what I think about one movie with others and want them to realize the art behind each movie. Google Analytics did not give me much information about my audience, but from my peers, I learned quite a lot thanks to them. Whenever we have peer review, I always read what my peer say about my blog, and most say that they enjoy my writing about a movie review, but they hope that I can write a bit longer, so after every peer review, I always try my best to fix and change what I miss. For example, in peer review two, my peer says that my design is needed some change, so I do some changes hope that soon when she returns to my blog, they can see the change between the design before and after.

Twelve weeks is not long enough to improve something I have just familiar with, but it is also quite long to help me understand the publication. I have always been impressed at how an author of a book can think and write down one story, but as an online publisher, it is even harder because I have to write a blog every week which to some people, it is quite boring. I also need to look out for not only copyrights but also fake news. I would not want to be sued because of the copyright and spreading false news in public space. Also that because I know that some of my reviews are children’s movie so I always try my best to keep my words and information fits with children as well. These recent years, the internet becomes popular to also children. However, there are some contents that actually not fit the children like a creepy pasta, but using children’s favorite image as thumbnail: “Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatize, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level. Much of what I am going to describe next has been covered elsewhere, although none of the mainstream coverage I’ve seen has really grasped the implications of what seems to be occurring.” (Bridle, 2017). Because of these people who heartlessly aim at children frail’s minds to do something bad, I also have to be more careful when I review a children’s animation and check the credibility and authenticity when I cite something outside as well.

Overall, I can see that I am still improving every week, but I need more time to make my blog be more accessible to my audience and make it grow. But I can still see how I try to improve after every feedback from my peers so I think my blog will soon reach out to more audiences and grow larger with not only the number of access but also grow with the blog. At the end of the term, I think that I have done a great job in having something to write about every week and know what I want to do with my blog instead of aimlessly trying to write whatever I have in my mind.


Doctorow, Corey. (May 9, 2021). The Memex Method: When Your Commonplace Book is A Public Database. Retrieved from: https://doctorow.medium.com/the-memex-method-238c71f2fb46

Gertz, Travis. (July 10, 2015). Design Machines. How to survive in the digital Apocalypse. Retrieved from: https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines

Bridle, James. (Nov 6, 2017). Something is Wrong on the Internet. Retrieved from: https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2

Week 12. Essay 2

As an international student, I introduced the information that I have experienced and was really useful, and the publishing minor that would be unfamiliar to public if they were not a major in that department. It can be comforting for an international student like me, it can be important information for those who dream of becoming an international student, it can be helpful for a newbie who just entered the SFU, or it can be a space to help parents of international students understand. So my target audience will be 18 to 50, that is, students to parents. I provide as concise and core content as possible, so I write in multiple paragraphs with a large representative image of the information. Although YouTube and TikTok and other visual media and short form contents are popular these days, I thought people who are more familiar with writing than videos if they are a group that visits blogs and reads this article in my blog. Therefore, in order to improve readability, I did not use multiple fonts, but only mark as a bold for necessary parts. What I found from the statistics was that Vancouver, Burnaby, and Coquitlam accounted for the largest portion of my subscribers, nevertheless the percentage of viewers in Korea was still high. This means I still less posting and lacking than other Canadian contents, but I dare to guess that I searched by more in Korea because it was more efficient than the information they could find in Korean blog.

At the beginning of the semester, I thought this class was just an easy one. A lot of people referred to this class as GPA Booster, and I came in this class for 50% of I wanted to get good credit, and 50% of practice as a digital marketer. But this class that I went through myself was the opposite. At first, I didn’t think seriously about this class because I thought that grades would follow if I just recorded the field of interest. However, as I continued to learn about various topics such as copyright, design, and journalistic ethics, I realized that this was not just writing a few words in somewhere. From the moment the article is written on the Internet and I press the publish button, my article is essentially recorded on the Internet and becomes something that can never be erased. People often think that this new media content is less responsible and easier to delete than books, but in fact, you can burn the books all down, but you have to be more responsible because the content on the Internet is spreading so fast that it’s written somewhere in the log.

The most interesting academic thing during the lecture was that the idea or method did not fall under copyright. I thought the idea would naturally be protected by copyright. “Ideas, methods, and systems are not covered by copyright protection. According to the US Copyright Office, Circular 2, this covers quite a few things including making, or building things; scientific or technical methods or discoveries; business operations or procedures; mathematical principles; formulas, algorithms; or any other concept, process, or method of operation”. (U.S. Copyright Office, 2022)

Beside the academic stuff, two of the most important lessons I learned during the semester were, first, to develop a sense of responsibility as an online publisher. The responsibilities of online publishers are very much debated. There is a rampant trend of posting controversial articles or photos on the Internet at random and deleting them as if nothing happened. Some argue that stronger legal sanctions are needed than at present in order for social networking services (social media), blogs, Internet community, and news comments with many users to be “purified.”( Reyman, & Sparby, 2020)

The second lesson is able to develop a habit of recording. If I had asked to run this blog while studying and part-time for a semester, I would never have done it. However, thanks to the pressure under the title of assignment, I was able to post every week, which I think helped me develop my writing skills. Also, as a reader, as a writer, I think three peer reviews were an opportunity to become a mature content creator and content consumer in that I evaluate other people’s blogs from various perspectives and also my blog is evaluated. It is really meaningful to have such an experience in the era of online content flooding, and I am confident that it will be a big manure for the digital contents work I will do in the future.


  Friend, & Singer, J. B. (2007). Online journalism ethics : traditions and transitions / Cecilia Friend and Jane B. Singer. M.E. Sharpe.

Karlsson, Clerwall, C., & Nord, L. (2017). Do Not Stand Corrected. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 94(1), 148–167. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699016654680

  Reyman, & Sparby, E. M. (2020). Digital Ethics (2nd ed.). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429266140

What does copyright protect? What Does Copyright Protect? (FAQ) | U.S. Copyright Office. (n.d.). Retrieved April 4, 2022, from https://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html

Essay One

Freedom of Speech on Social Media

Gossiping and discussing have appeared for a long period of time, the only thing that changed is the ways the news spreads. If in the past, the fastest news you could hear was from mouth to mouth as a rumor, then nowadays, you can easily access all sorts of social media platforms to know about the latest news. But because everyone has their freedom of speech, it causes lots of issues about fake news, racism, violence, and hatred on these social media platforms. With the era when human rights are put first, everyone’s freedom of speech becomes more difficult to control.

Last year, Donald Trump becomes one of the people who have been banned from using social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. The reason is simply that his speech was not accurate and it started an unwanted protest that harmed many people. Freedom of speech is for everyone but Trump was banned to speak on these platforms was an ironic matter. It would not be bad if social media was used for the right purpose, but in these few years, as the internet outgrow, it is harder to control what people write on the internet. Why would social media become a place where everyone easily expresses themselves to the world? It is because on the internet, we, the users are nobody. This online disinhibition effect is called “dissociative anonymity”. According to John Suler, author of The Psychology of Cyberspace, dissociate anonymity means that the identity on the internet can be anonymous, no one could know who is writing behind the screen and even if the anonymous do something bad on the internet, they would convince themselves that it was not their action, they did not do it (Suler, 2004). So because of these people, social media become a toxic place. A few toxic comments can actually shape public opinion easily, especially if you only listen from one side. A few months ago, an author, a YouTuber I know, Lindsay Ellis has quit being a YouTuber and deleted all of her accounts on social media because of harassment and bullying she received on the internet after on post of her on Twitter about “Raya and the Last Dragon”. She was being harassed on social media platforms to the point that she mentally breakdown because her explanation was not being heard, but backfired her with even more toxic comments.

From Twitter
(Mustafa, 2022)

There are some extends that a person can withstand bullying from social media. But in Lindsay Ellis’ case, it grows out of control just because she writes about her own thought on Disney’s animation movie and cancels culture related. It would not be too toxic if anyone who has an argument with Ellis on her ideas listened to her explanation until the end. Social media is a good place to express your own thought but in Ellis’ case, the opinion that being pleased by people can be eliminated by society.

Freedom of speech on the internet can shape public opinion easily because the human mind is easy to sway. The way that can easily sway a person that involved with personal freedom. If any of the politics violate freedoms, the public would not stand for it. Because of the pandemic, many of the restrictions as well as rules have violated the freedoms that the people usually have, for example, their own choice in vaccination and wearing masks. Recently, the truck convoy has made a big protest in Canada about vaccination and vaccine passports. Most of them make their opinion about how unnecessary the vaccination is since the people who got vaccinated can also have a high chance of getting covid-19 and vaccine passport did not help much in preventing the pandemic. On CBC News around February 19, because of the protester, who have blocked the way on the street and causes many disruption to the neighborhood, the polices have to do their best in order to arrest truckers (CBC News, 2022).

This is a serious matter on social media because the way the protester where trying to delivers where quite convincing. It is hard for anyone who got mental health issue during the pandemic can pass the opportunity to protest against the government and get back their own freedom.

It is more serious when most of them were thinking that anyone who believes in the governments was actually being brainwashed. In the eyes of others who are not protesting, this is the action of selfishness. But to the truck convoy, it was because of their freedom in democracy. During this period of protest, many people took advantage of the opportunity to create fake news that made many people worried. Not only in the countries but fake news can also be possibly created from outside of the country. There are many people who use fake news with fake accounts to stir the politics inside the country, according to CBC News: “A former official in the State Department and Department of Defence under George W. Bush, Kristofer Harrison, said in an interview that Russia uses dummy profiles to promote all sorts of polarizing content across the political spectrum, from Black Lives Matter and defunding the police to white supremacists and yellow-vest protests.” (Panetta, 2022)  

Why is freedom of speech more severe and violent in highly democratic countries? Because they value human freedom more than countries that are democratic but control human freedom. Countries where they control the source of information easily gain people’s trust because they believe that the government is always right and for the people. So like in China, free speech is allowed, but sensitive topics will not appear on social networking platforms. Therefore, it is easier for the government to control information, and public opinion will not be easily distorted or changed by an individual or an organization. Countries like the US and Canada place great emphasis on freedom of expression and human rights, so it’s completely normal for leaders to be mocked.

In conclusion, the role of social media nowadays is very important, but anyone who use it need to have sense of responsibility. Because the internet is unpredictable, there are no saying when your word would hurt someone you do not even know. Social media can be toxic most of the time but it is not mean that it was not good. Using social media for expressing your own thought is good but everything that is post on these platforms need to be checked as many time as possible so social media can be come a place where everyone can enjoy and looking for different opinions.


Suler, John. 2004. The Online Disinhibition. Retrieved from: https://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Panetta, Alexander. 2022. U.S. Congress asks Facebook: What role did fake overseas accounts have in promoting Canada convoys?. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/congress-convoys-facebook-1.6357381

Mustafa, Filiz. 2022. Why did Lindsay Ellis Quit Youtube? Twitter Explained. Retrieved from: https://www.hitc.com/en-gb/2021/12/28/lindsay-ellis-twitter/

CBC News. 2022. Protesters against COVID-19 measures march in Toronto after gathering at Queen’s Park. Retrieved from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/protest-saturday-toronto-closed-roads-1.6358087

The Experience Of Creating An Online Publication

Week 12: Process Post / Essay #2

Featured Image Credit: Nick Morrison on Unsplash


Throughout the course I have learned a lot about publication, and how to present myself online. In this essay I will be reflecting on course content, what I have learned, and my thoughts and experiences with online publication. The essay will be split into three parts; in the first part I will discuss my thoughts around online publication, then I will discuss what my goals are for my online self, and my overall experience with being an online publisher and how I will continue to expand my website. Secondly, I will discuss who my website is for, who my public is, and I will address the editorial and design decisions I made regarding my audience. Lastly, I will look at what I have learned from my audience, the course, google analytics, and WordPress.

Experience & Goals

            When I started this course, I had a basic understanding on what online publication is, and how to run a website. However, throughout the course I have learned the importance of audiences and how to cater content to them through your design and editorial choices. Throughout the course I have learned that every detail matters in regard to design and editorial choices as this helps attract audiences, and how it is necessary to become familiar with a software program like WordPress.

            The overall experience of being an online publisher has been stressful and exciting. Although my content has primarily only been seen by my classmates and instructors, it was still stressful to produce content that would be available for public consumption. I say this because, there is more pressure to ensure that the information is correct, appropriate, and falls with the values of your website. It is difficult to please everyone online and even if you do everything right, people can still be cruel online. This relates back to John Suler’s reading, The Online Disinhibition Effect, which discusses concepts like “dissociative anonymity (Suler, 2004, p.322)” and “invisibility (Suler, 2004, p.322).” It discusses how since people can’t always be seen online, they have more courage to say and do what they want, because they are unknown to the online world and don’t have to deal with the consequences of what they say (Suler, 2004, p.322). This relates back to what I am saying, because that pressure and stress I refer to is triggered by this anxiety that users online may say negative things towards my content, and I do not even know who they are.

            However, it was also very exciting to build an online presence where I can discuss my passion which is music. In many process posts I discussed that I would want my website to be a portfolio for jobs in the music industry; as the website would show my knowledge and interest in music, and possibly throughout time if I were able to gain an audience, that would indicate that I have interesting content. I enjoyed the experience of combining my passion of music and writing with an academic class. In Campbell’s reading titled, A Personal Cyberinfrastructure it was discussed how higher education often fails to utilize these online tools like creating websites and allowing students to explore their imaginations while doing academic work (Campbell, 2009, para.5). However, in this course I enjoyed combining technology and my imagination with academic work.

            I will continue to expand my website as I have many goals and plans. Firstly I would like to change the theme and overall design; my process posts from week 6 to 11, discuss the changes I want to make. I will use social media to help expand my website, starting off with an Instagram account that will deal with shorter posts to engage interest, and prompt users to go read the full posts on the website. I have already started Blue Bedroom Playlists, which is playlists I have created through Spotify, and I would like to continue to expand this with the website and other social media platforms.

My Public & Editorial and Design Decisions

            I have imagined a public that is users who are between the ages of 15-30 (Music Gateway Team, 2016, para.1), who would be visiting and engaging with my website. Since my website focuses on many topics like album reviews, new artists and deals with all genres, it was difficult to narrow down an audience. However, through my knowledge and understanding of who uses social media platforms and views music blogs, I had assumed that this age group would most likely be my public or audience.

            This audience informed my editorial decisions because I find that younger audiences want fast and engaging information through things like Instagram stories and GIFS. So, for my website I started to incorporate videos and Spotify playlists into the blog posts, to make them shorter and more interesting. My audience informed my design decisions because I find that younger audiences enjoy a familiar design, so I am trying to do that with a blue color scheme which I have continued to progress throughout the semester.

What I Have Learned

            Throughout the essay I had discussed different things I have learned throughout the course. However, I had also gained knowledge on, linking out, google analytics, and WordPress which I will now discuss. I learned that linking out in posts is very important, as it helps you connect with other platforms and helps to bring viewers to your website. Through google analytics I learned that I can monitor how many people come to my website, and what pages are viewed and more; this helps me understand what I need to improve on my website or what is working. Lastly from WordPress I learned that it is crucial to understand the software and to explore outside of it as well, as coding is essential in building a website.


            Throughout the course I have learned a lot and have advanced my skills in online publication and building a website. This essay explored course content, my experiences, what I have learned and more. As time progresses, I will continue to expand my website and use information that I learned from this course to help further my website.


Gardner Campbell, W. (2009). “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure.” EDUCAUSE Review 44 (5). http://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Music Gateway Team. (2016). How is Music Marketed to Different Age Groups? Retrieved from Music Gateway: https://www.musicgateway.com/blog/how-to/how-is-music-marketed-to-different-age-groups

Suler, J. (2004). “The Online Disinhibition Effect.” Available from: Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Essay #2: The Conclusion of PUB 101

I always had an appetite for self-expression. In secondary school, I would post on multiple platforms including YouTube and Tumblr under a mysterious username. Although I constantly craved to speak my mind, I would always set my posts to private out of instinct. My self-expression was always limited to a privatized audience. This came as a result of being taught to keep things private online. In Danah Boyd’s book, It’s Complicated, she expresses the sentiment behind teaching the youth to be cautious online. She states that parents are usually concerned about their child’s online presence with worries that they might post something inappropriate or dangerous (Boyd, 2014, Searching for a Public of Their Own, para. 16). I was never posting anything harmful, but it was still a frightening thought to have something negative traced back to me in the real world. My past fears about having an online presence are important to recall when understanding how my habits have transformed throughout the semester.

PUB 101 forced me to defy the fears that I previously avoided. It troubled me to think about how others would perceive me online, so creating a public blog about myself was a significant disruption to the habits that I was normally comfortable with. The first disturbance came about when I was picking a blog name. It was such a critical decision to create a web domain that would last a year. Initially, I wanted my blog to be under a mysterious username, in the same degree as my old habits. However, I figured using my name would be my best bet at creating something unique. Since I was already taking a leap of faith by creating a blog in the first place, it didn’t seem too far off to also name it after myself. In hindsight, I’m surprised that I chose to post things under my real name where anyone could find me. This name choice was a shocking first step that paved the way for many other decisions because it went against all of the preconceived opinions that I had about creating an online presence.

After that first step, I decided to choose a blog theme. I wanted a theme that was minimalistic but also unique; something that wouldn’t take away from the content that I would post. I took a long meander through WordPress themes and initially settled on one of the lesser-known ones called ‘Pink Personal Blogily’. I enjoyed its simplicity, but I soon realized that this lone factor was its greatest downfall, since it lacked a number of customization features that I desired. Shortly after, I adjusted to the ‘Elfie’ theme. This theme allowed for the same minimalism but included more ways to customize features. I tried to keep in mind the design principles that were mentioned in class – balance, rhythm, proportion and scale, contrast and point of focus, and unity and harmony.

I was originally debating between two totally different blog topics – hockey or fashion. But since we’re in a global pandemic right now, the hockey season was constrained. With that being said, fashion was my best option. I consider myself to be heavily motivated by fashion influencers, so I thought it would be a good idea to experiment with fashion using my own personal twist. In “Digital Dressing Up: Modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere” by Tara Chittenden, she explained how many females, including myself, choose to express themselves using fashion blogs. Chittenden articulates, “The complex interplay between individuality and connectedness comes to the fore in the field of the fashion blog as teens trade cultural and social capital through processes of posting, linking, and commenting” (Chittenden, 2010, para. 14). This is extremely relevant to the way that I view large fashion influencers and the way that I strive to become one as well. Popularity amongst fashion influencers stems from the idea of following trends while also creating new trends to follow. When reflecting on my own blog posts, I recognize that I do a lot to make myself become a part of the fashion community, but I don’t do a lot in order to differentiate myself from other people.     

For the most part, I provide information about products, including reviews and dupes. When looking for influencers to follow, I usually follow people who also provide reviews and dupes. In that sense, I recreate the tactics that big influencers use so that I can garner growth similar to them. This concept can relate to the idea of copycat culture that Travis Gertz outlines in “Design Machines: How to survive in the digital apocalypse.” Gertz states, “When another company achieves success, there’s a lot of pressure to investigate what they did right and apply that to our own organizations” (Gertz, 2015, para. 24). Although this is a good way to start, I also realized throughout the semester that this tactic can quickly become a disadvantage. This downfall is because there are many people who already blog about fashion and do it better than me. At the end of the day, it becomes a question of who will choose to listen to my opinion over other influencers who have a larger following? The only way to win in this situation is to create something unique; something that I haven’t done enough of. I learned this by exploring the statistics provided by my audience. Most of the sessions on my blog are surface-level interactions, with no comments. Consequently, I still have a lot to learn about how to cater to my audience using Google Analytics.

My imagined audience is other fashion enthusiasts who have a similar style as me. Although this imagined audience is whom I would hope to reach, I presume that almost all of my real audience is actually students from PUB 101. I think it would be cool to reach more of my imagined audience in the future, but I also understand that doing so takes time and effort that I have yet to put in. Before this class, I thought it would be easy to create and maintain a blog. But I realized it takes a lot of work. There’s a big difference between having an idea and actually executing it with an audience in mind. I had endless ideas about what I could post, but the way that I imagined them in my head ended up being difficult to successfully market to an audience. Although this is the case, it’s a part of growth to understand what I enjoy posting and vice versa.

After this course, I will continue to blog. I will experiment more with catering content to my audience and trying to find ways to reach more people. It will be fun to look back on my content from the past and see how much I have grown from it. I gained unforgettable knowledge from this course that I know I will use in the future. Since I want to work in the marketing industry, it was fascinating to learn about content creation and analytics. It was a valuable experience to be able to casually experiment with ways to cater to an audience, especially because it is actually a lot harder than it seems. I also learned how to use many different tools like WordPress, Google Analytics, Canva, Pexels, and Unsplash. I will be delving deeper into these new tools to use in my work life.

Works Cited

Boyd, D. (2014). Searching for a public of their own. In D. Boyd, It’s Complicated (pp. 213-227).

Chittenden, T. (2010). Digital dressing up: modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere. Journal of Youth Studies, 505-520.

Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). Design Machines: How to survive the digital apocalypse. Retrieved from Louder Than Ten: https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines

Essay #2

My Experience with Online Publishing

I created this blog three months ago, and it has been a great journey since I began. Before beginning this blog, I worked with blogging through Instagram, and found that I liked blogging my thoughts on what I read. My experience has been very positive on this platform, and I was able to build my blog from not having anything into being my own space to share what I think. When I began my blog, I had difficulty with learning how to add different features and drop-down menus. I had to watch tutorials and ask people how they learned to do certain things on WordPress, too. Creating my publication took a couple weeks, but I was able to build content that I really loved, and also that I thought others would be able to relate to. I did this by writing updates for my progress and writing reviews on books from different genres. I began this blog to share my love of books with others and have found that it is a wonderful outlet to have.

            I have learned a lot through creating my own blog, and I have also grown in how I review books. As the article, “Publics and Counterpublics” by Michael Warner, mentions, every publication has an aimed public (Warner 1). My imagined public for this blog is anyone who loves to read or is looking for book recommendations. My goal for this blog is to reach more bookworms, and provide them with quality content on books, which may result in them gaining a recommendation. I always appreciate having book review blogs and websites to visit, and one of my favourite bookish websites is Epic Reads. Personally, I always feel welcome and happy when I visit their website because of everything they feature and the fun colours they use. This became my goal when I began this blog, to make my audience feel welcome when they visit. I attempted to do this by using light colours, a simple background, and also inserting Autumn themed photos I took of books. In addressing my audience, I made the blog easy to navigate with a search bar, drop-down menus, and also a sidebar with recent posts linked. Many bookworms also have a Goodreads account or access Goodreads regularly for synopsis’, so this is one additional thing I added to my book reviews. By inserting hyperlinks for my audience to visit the book on Goodreads, it allows people to easily check it on Goodreads, if they would like, and then return to the review. I attempted to make my website easy for people to find things on, and access different sections.

            Google Analytics was a feature that I used in order to help me understand how many people were visiting my blog and how it grew throughout the past three months. Using Google Analytics, I discovered that my audience members were staying on my blog, on average, for about two minutes, but recently that increased to around 9 minutes. I also learned that a lot of my audience visited my blog in the afternoon or during mid-day. Using this information, I have a better insight for what times would be best to post, and how I have improved with creating my content. I have not been receiving comments, yet, but I am hoping to gain them in the future, as I continue to grow my blog. I have received inspiration, throughout these past months, from a few blogs, including Bag Full of Books (Arpita 2015). From these blogs, I was able to take away what I enjoyed from them and apply some of those aspects into my own blog. I have found that I have grown a lot since I began blogging, but I also know that there is more growth to achieve for my blog.

            My thinking has changed regarding my blog since I began it. When I first started writing on my blog, there were times when I wasn’t sure how to blog or what to write about. I had to brainstorm ideas and thought it might not be successful. As I continued working on my blog, I began to forget about the success it had, and instead focused on the content I enjoyed creating. As I began to enjoy creating content more, my content became better, and I was able to work towards my goal of creating a welcoming space. Looking forward, I would love to continue this blog. I really enjoy having this blog as a place to talk about books and create content that I love. I will be taking a break from it for a little while, during the holidays, but hopefully I will be continuing my blog in the new year. In doing so, I will most likely connect more social media aspects to it, and also feature more colourful photos. Overall, this has been a very useful learning experience, and I look forward to continuing my work with blogging.

Works Cited

“Young Adult (YA) Books & Books for Teens.” Epic Reads, Harper Collins, www.epicreads.com/.

Warner, Michael. “Publics and Counterpublics.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, vol. 88, no. 4, Nov. 2002.

Arpita. Bag Full Of Books, 15 Mar. 2020, bagfullofbooks.com/.

Semester Reflections

Habits for Contentment Is a website that started as a hope I had for the semester. During the pandemic, I had been feeling everything but content, and I wanted to use this blog as an opportunity to build healthy habits into my life. This essay will cover why I created this blog, and what I have learned over the course of the semester.

What is it about and who is it for?

Habits for Contentment is all about building healthy habits into your everyday life. This is demonstrated through blog posts about thankfulness, generosity, staying active or building a morning routine. While this blog can be for anyone that is looking for ways to find peace during the pandemic, it is mainly for students who are also struggling through the hardships of completing a semester online.

One blog I have taken inspiration from is Andi Anne. She writes about nutrition, health, and messy stories from motherhood. I love this website because of its neutral tonal pallet and clean organization. She creates a sense of order in an occasionally chaotic cyberspace. In my website, I hope to use a similar sense of design and layout to engage with my audience. Check out her blog here.

Who is your public image?

The public image I am hoping to create is one that values vulnerability and honesty. One resource I used when I was first building my public image was Creating your Online Persona by Jack Canfield (n.d.). Canfield talks about how first you must decide who you are, then you can begin building your website and advancing your brand with content (n.d.). This article helped me to focus on understanding who I am as a writer and then decide what to post and how to present myself.

I want to use my blog posts to explore new ways of finding contentment in my life, but I do not want to paint an unrealistic picture of myself having a perfectly content life. I will share the success I have in running and painting, but I will also share my frustrations when I sleep through my alarm or cheat on my morning routine. I want to create a public image that is relatable, accessible, and joyful.  

Something I want to try and counter in my writing is the Online Disinhibition Effect which describes how when there is anonymity, people are more likely to shed their usual restraints or integrity (Konnikova, 2013). This can promote engagement and risk taking, but in my website, I want to promote honesty and vulnerability, so I hope to create a different style of engagement with my audience.

This infographic I created talks more deeply about the values of Habits for Contentment. The core values I want to represent through this blog are people centered, vulnerable, honest, and fun loving. Read more about my values here.

How are you addressing your audience through editorial, design, content?

Once I had decided on the purpose of my blog and the online image I wanted to portray, I put together a vision board to help guide my posts, design choice and voice. Take a look at my vision board here.

I want to capture a feeling in my vision board. I want readers to look at my website and feel a sigh of relief like when you take a refreshing walk outside or see a beautiful sunset. My goal is to create a blissful feeling throughout my entire blog.  On my homepage I do this by using a clean font and leaving lots of white space. Additionally, I have a picture of wildflowers as a banner on every page of my website to begin curating a feeling of refreshment and peace. My colour pallet has deep greens to symbolize trees with deep root and consistent growth and includes some light pinks to symbolize fun and curiosity.

This article published by Blogging Explorer discussed the importance of understanding your target audience and how to cater your content online (Mikke, 2020). Two points he made were about how your target audience will help you create better content, and have great post ideas (Mikke, 2020). Understanding your audience will help you to know their needs and desires, and understand what they might be looking for in their digital content. This will help to increase reader engagement and build my audience.

One blog post that highlights the purpose and design of my website is Being Thankful for Rain. In this blog post I wrote about how being thankful for the small things in your life can help you to get through hard days. Making thankfulness lists is one way I try to find contentment in my life and is reiterated throughout almost all my blog posts. The design of this post incorporates lots of white space separated by curated pictures that I took of a recent thankfulness list I had made. Being Thankful for Rain is a post that highlights the values of my blog and captures the design aesthetic I hope to maintain throughout my website.

What value are you providing and to whom?

My hope is that through these blog posts I can provide value by offering practical tips and advice on how to live with contentment and joy amidst a pandemic. Some blog posts that do this are 5 Reasons to Try Running and Morning Mishaps & Daily Routines. Both blog posts offer a glimpse into one habit I have tried to implement in my life, and some practical ways they could be applied to my readers lives. Both posts contain external research into how these habits have been proven to improve your health or decrease stress levels.

In the future, I may build monetizing features into my posts such as product promotions or specific collaborations with other bloggers, but these must be directly relevant to my core values and not be misleading to my readers.

What have you learned through Google Analytics?

Google Analytics has been a very fun tool to learn how people are interacting with my website. The most helpful thing I learned was that I had a very high bounce rate, meaning that people would quickly leave my website after visiting the first page. As I was investigating this, I noticed that my home page did not give the reader somewhere to go after reading the introduction. To address this, I linked some of my favourite blog posts to my home page, and my bounce rate has decreased by 15%. There is still lots to learn from Google Analytics, and I have so much to benefit from understanding my audience more and learning how people are interacting with my blog.

Blogging has been an incredible experience in learning about writing, creativity and finding contentment during a pandemic. I look forward to continuing this blog in the future and building my brand image.

Works Cited

Anne, A. (2020, December 02). Andi Anne: About. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://andianne.com/about/

Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Cyberinfrastructure. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Canfield, J. (2019, November 26). Online Branding: 5 Steps to Create Your Online Persona. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://www.jackcanfield.com/blog/online-branding/

Konnikova, M. (2013). The Psychology of Online Comments. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/the-psychology-of-online-comments

Mikke. (2020, July 24). How to Find Your Blog Target Audience in 2020: The Ultimate Guide. Retrieved December 04, 2020, from https://bloggingexplorer.com/blog-target-audience/

Essay #2: A Reflection on the Trials and Tribulations of Web-Development

Web development is constantly evolving and no longer requires one to be an expert coder or even familiar with computer science. Presently, there are a wide variety of services and applications that make creating a website notably more accessible. Through much trial and error my blog “Lore of the World” or LOTW was made. It is a blog that aims to build upon all sorts of stories from literature and cultural beliefs. The demographic is fairly open but skews towards an audience between the ages of sixteen and older. As I chose to keep it within the classroom for now, the current public are primarily those in their twenties. I imagine my public; as mentioned by Matthew Stadler in “Finding Your Audience in the 21st Century”, to be people who have similar interests already and those who have yet to discover topics like folklore. Stadler explains that a “publication is the creation of a public…created by deliberate acts”. Even for websites that prevent users from commenting, creating, or interacting in a noticeable way, that is very much an act which creates a specific public. While users for LOTW cannot make their own posts, they have the option to comment and add to the discussion. Ideally, feedback and a distinct relationship will be created as it continues to grow and evolve. That said, it is difficult to create something that you enjoy creating for yourself while also capturing public attention. Too easily can one fall into either a project for self-satisfaction and frustrate their audience, or have their persona change entirely which may potentially alienate the original audience.

Upon reflection, there is an apparent difference when comparing my original expectations to the current status of my blog. Genevieve Gignac’s peer review is an excellent representation of both the positives and faults of my blog that I am aware of. I have found her input to be very helpful. Likely due to the minimal content outside of course material, Google Analytics revealed that there was not a considerable amount of traffic. Understandably, users currently spend the majority of their time on both the Home and Introduction pages respectively because these pages have the most content. Additionally, I kept my articles and advertisements about my blog to this class which also accounts for the low numbers. I am continuing to work on many of the suggestions she has made such as removing some widgets. Another example is creating a site logo and integrating more of my own art. While I have found many difficulties passing on the ideas for my blog from my head unto the screen, I have confidence in my artistic abilities. As the semester continued, I questioned why I chose not to pursue an art blog instead. Ultimately, I came to understand that my attention was split between a subject I find interesting to discuss casually, and one that is more appropriate for a traditional publication such as a book considering the scope of what I originally tried to accomplish. As I will have much more time coming this spring, I am aiming to completely restructure my blog. The darker theme will be similar, but I hope to improve the user interface and experience. In order to increase traffic to the blog, it is a must to create a more active social media presence. For the current iteration of LOTW, however, I prefer to keep it as a hobby rather than concern myself with popularity. This course allows us to also focus on future endeavors. For instance, I plan to convert it into an art blog. 

Initially I felt that publication was primarily content focused. Although I still believe this to be true, online presence goes beyond merely posting regularly and having basic social media links. I chose to forgo additional social links for several reasons. The first was a lack of confidence towards constantly updating pages like an Instagram. This is something I would change once there is more content. The second of which is my lack of experience with web design. As it is my first attempt, the smaller audience within the class allows me additional freedom to change and experiment. Most importantly, anonymity helps to create a more mysterious atmosphere that compliments my blog theme. Contemporary publication require content creators to “carefully craft the way we appear…behave, and…the way we are perceived by others” (Max). This is a key idea for those who intend to monetize their content, services, or their persona. Even a silent or relatively removed persona affects the entire atmosphere. The less a content creator interjects, the more users can build an identity for the website themselves. An example of such includes forums such as Reddit, Tumblr, and 4chan. Even if the moderators are present, their interactions with users are generally minimal. As a result, the content is unanimously user generated despite content control remaining with the moderators. This in itself is a method to draw users. Just as “our identities are constructions that we tinker with as we go” websites also evolve over time based on their user base (Max). Gignac mentions how LOTW “is not meant to create an online persona but more like an “online world” that other users can engage with and learn from”. She is correct with her assumption, and a “fascinating fantasy land” is what I had hoped to create for individuals such as herself who have no initial interest in folklore or fantastical literature. Anonymity is important to me for both logistical reasons and as a way to allow LOTW to develop alongside its public.

It is this contemporary online space which allows one to connect with a wide variety of people and who all express their own opinions or ideas. Ideally, a blog allows for the author to express their viewpoints, opinions, or creative works. It is crucial to consider who one’s audience is. Depending on the preferences of the creator, they may or may not decide outsider attention is important. As technology evolves and becomes more accessible to people of every type of background, competency, and expertise. Whether it is solely through my own incompetency or something else, it is clear there is a large deficit between my ability to create a certain aesthetic on paper and actually implementing that aesthetics in a functional manner for a website. Developing a user-friendly cyber infrastructure demands a lot of time. Even with the many tutorials and services available, it is a daunting task to someone like myself. Despite this, I did manage to create an outline and learn some of the basics. While disappointing, it allows me to reflect on where these deficits come from and critically think about what can be done in the future. While I am uncertain about continuing my blog as it currently is, I do intend to take the skills I have learned and implement them for future projects.


  1. Stadler, Matthew. “What Is Publication? A Talk by Matthew Stadler.” Publication Studio, 11 Sept. 2010, https://vimeo.com/14888791.
  2. Max, J. 2015. “The Publication of Self.”
  3. Gignac, Genevieve. “Peer Review #1.” Genevieve-Gignac, 28 Sept. 2019, http://genevieve-gignac.com/posiel/peer-review-1/.
  4. Dijck, José van. “‘You have one identity’: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn.” (2013).

Essay 2

The Beginning

At the beginning, the notion of theplutoblog.com emerged as a secondary source to my photography account on Instagram. However, as I developed the vision board for the site, I refuted the idea and so I began to conjure something that would be separate from my professional life. By separating work, I could create a blog that was not only for myself to enjoy, but for an audience to admire and connect.

PLUTO as a Platform for Creatives

In addition, the blog offered an opportunity for me to “frame, curate, share, and direct [my] own engagement” in a “learning environment” (Campbell, 2009, para. 10). It would imply that creating PLUTO allowed me to educate myself on how to establish a stronger online presence. By sharing this knowledge, the public that I aimed to have with PLUTO was creators who wanted to discover other creative people. On a worldwide web scale, I would hope to become a one-stop-shop for inspiration. As well as a destination to view beautiful photographs to invigorate one’s creativity. To do this, the website’s design had to become image focused.

PLUTO to Address Audience

To start, PLUTO was then created to be a platform for myself to share and talk about creators in the fashion photography industry who I have high admiration for. As well as at times, showcasing editorials that enticed me. Partly, the blog was named PLUTO is based on the idea of being acknowledged, but at the same time, being not fully there. Like John Suler’s (2015), “The Online Disinhibition” stated, the “disinhibition effect” was to be “physically invisible” (para. 7). The quote would further play a role in the creation of the ‘about’ page. In the ‘about’ page, I would proclaim PLUTO to be the place “where creators hide in plain sight.” Quite literally, creators of the images we see in magazines cannot be seen in the image. However, their work is visible to the public.

In PLUTO, I wanted to change that concept a bit: putting the creators upfront and have their work be the supplementary material that drew the audience in. To do so, I utilized visuals as the basis of the site attractive. By replicating the format of Instagram and their focus on imagery, I would hope to “achieve success” (Gertz, 2015, para. 20). Further stated by Gertz (2015), whenever a “company achieves success,” others would “investigate what they did right and apply that to our own organizations” (para. 20). Taking on the format of Instagram, by highlighting the imagery presented on the blog, it would attract an audience to look and discover different creators that are behind the scenes. This would eventually play into the value that I hope is rendered into something people would continue to do: giving credit to people’s work.

PLUTO’s Value

Countless times I have witnessed people online—Instagram—where there are these gorgeous images that are clearly not their own are posted, but seemed to disregard the proper crediting of the images. It is not entirely difficult in contemporary technology, like Google Images, to ‘backwards search’ to find the origins of a photograph. Especially ones of great reverence and recognisability. In the end, providing proper credentials to others’ work shows deep appreciation to the creators and, it is a nice gesture.

Analytics & Comments

Regarding the analytics, I have noticed that the website attracts more users on desktops and laptops. I found this rather strange, presuming people would visit using their mobile devices. Then, I found a possible reason for this was that PLUTO was not mobile device friendly. Considering the WordPress template chosen, it would not give an overview of the site, but would fill the smartphone screen with one image at a time if one were to continue scrolling. However, I did find a spike on desktop viewership when there’s a spike on mobile devices—particularly from social media. This told me that people were finding PLUTO through Instagram and then head over to their desktop and laptops to see the overview of the blog.

As for comments, I have only received one comment and that stemmed from a fellow classmate who commented on the peer review page. The student simply asked for help on the website design and how to change certain things. It did not influence me in anyway. However, knowing the website is still in its infantry stage, I would not expect any comments on the blog.


Reflecting on the idea I had on publication at the beginning of the semester is not entirely different, but it has been expanded. Initially, I had a basic dictionary understanding of publishing: “The act of printing a book, a magazine, etc. and making it available to the public” (Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, 2019). Throughout the weeks, I came to build a thorough comprehension on the ‘public’ aspect of publishing. Particularly, one aspect was the act of self-marketing. PLUTO became an “important medium” to “learn about” the relationship I had with others through an online platform (Chittenden, 2010, p. 517). Part of it was understanding how to gain and maintain an engaged audience through the content I publish and the overall aesthetic of my brand.

Looking forward, I would continue to blog. However, between school work, freelance jobs, and maintaining a social life (ha-ha), it is difficult to successfully maintain an frequently updated blog. Considering the blog that PLUTO is inherently about, a lot of research goes into it. Thus, becoming disabled in the efforts to continue a regular basis. Except, I would be maintaining the Instagram account. While PLUTO rummages through its infant stage, Instagram was a platform where I could engage more with the creators I shared on the site. Continuing Instagram, it would help elaborate my online presence as it would give me a chance to directly thank the creators for their work. “When you find someone whose work you like, tell them” (Thorn, 2012, para. 71). This is vital to my online presence, because I just want those who worked hard know that people genuinely enjoy their work. By using Instagram, it has allowed me to do so. Even if the comment gets lost within countless others.

Concluding Thought

The Internet—especially social media—can be a nasty place. But, it is in these moments where I can find joy in social media and think of the difference I can make when I comment, “Hey! Love this!” on someone’s post. Like the Chittenden (2010) article state, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Positive vibes everyone. Positive vibes.


Campbell, W. G. (2009, September 4). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2009/9/a-personal-cyberinfrastructure

Chittenden, T. (2010). Digital dressing up: modelling female teen identity in the discursive spaces of the fashion blogosphere. Journal of Youth Studies13(4), 505-520. doi:10.1080/13676260903520902

Gertz, T. (2015, July 10). Design machines. Retrieved from https://louderthanten.com/coax/design-machines

Publication [Def. 1]. (n.d.). In Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, Retrieved November 25, 2019, from https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/publication

Suler, J. (2016). Psychology of cyberspace the online disinhibition effect. Retrieved from http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Thorn, J. (2012, April 11). Jesse thorn. Retrieved from https://transom.org/2012/jesse-thorn-make-your-thing/

Featured image is by Jackie Nickerson for AnOther Magazine (2018).