Social media platforms have become an important part of our lives and often provide an outlet for us to share our thoughts, feelings, and experiences. They allow us to connect with others who share similar interests and can help us build relationships that last beyond the online world. Here are some of the most popular social media platforms:
Facebook is an American online social media and social networking service company based in Menlo Park, California. The company’s website was launched on February 4, 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg with his Harvard College roommates and fellow students Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz, and Chris Hughes. The founders had initially limited the website’s membership to Harvard students; however, later they expanded it to colleges in the Boston area as well as Stanford University. It gradually added support for students at various other universities before it dropped its membership requirement in 2006. The name comes from the face book directories often given to American university students.
As of October 2018, there are over 2.32 billion monthly active users on Facebook, making it the largest social network site in the world by the number of users.
Twitter is an online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages known as “tweets.” These tweets are sent and enforced to users via a worldwide distributed database (see: cache). The service also allows the downloading and sharing of photos, videos, and other information, as well as direct messaging of users with other users. Users can read and subscribe to various online news sources through Twitter. Many websites and services provide integrated social media platforms tied directly to the site’s timeline. Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams with funding from Benchmark Capital. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity and was the 10th most-visited website as of April 2008. As of 2012, more than 100 million active users posted 340 million tweets daily, and on average made 5,000 tweets per hour.
Instagram (owned by Facebook)
Instagram is a mobile application that allows the user to take pictures, add effects (transitions) and post them online from a handheld device (smartphone or tablet). Instagram, Inc develops Instagram. The service was created in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chief Technical Officer (CTO). The Instagram app is available for smartphones, tablets, and desktops that run iOS, Android, or Windows Phone operating systems. It is available for download from the App Store (iOS) and Google Play (Android). Instagram has almost 300 million active users as of March 2018.
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service. Founded on December 28, 2002, and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. As of 2015, most of the company’s revenue came from selling access to sales leads to recruiters and was estimated to be $1.17 billion. As of September 2016, LinkedIn had more than 400 million registered users in 200 countries and territories. It is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.
The service became popular with job seekers, who search for potential employers and colleagues, post their resumes and set up job-hunting notifications, then get contacted by recruiters and potential employers. In April 2009, more than 11 million users signed up in the first four days. As of March 2015, more than 300 million users are on LinkedIn.
YouTube (owned by Google)
YouTube is an American video-sharing website headquartered in San Bruno, California. The service was created by three former PayPal employees-Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim — in February 2005. Google bought the site in November 2006 for US$1.65 billion; YouTube now operates as one of Google’s subsidiaries. The site allows users to upload, view, and share videos. It uses WebM, H.264/MPEG-4 AVC, and Adobe Flash Video technology to display various user-generated and corporate media videos. Available content includes video clips, TV show clips, music videos, movie trailers, and other content such as blogging, short original videos, and educational videos. Unregistered users can only watch videos on the site, while registered users are permitted to upload an unlimited number of videos and add comments to videos. Videos deemed potentially offensive are available only to registered users at least 18 years old.
Since its launch, YouTube has faced censorship from governments and corporations worldwide. In October 2012, a dispute between YouTube and the British royalty collection agency PRS for Music led to premium music videos being blocked for YouTube users in the United Kingdom. The removal of content by Warner Music Group was announced in January 2014 and again in February 2015 with a provision for the content to be available for those who sign up for a paid monthly subscription service. In November 2012, it was reported that YouTube was planning to launch its subscription service.
Pinterest is a web and mobile application company mediating an online pinboard of image collections and other information, with a visual discovery tool that matches different images and ideas. The site was founded by Ben Silbermann, Paul Sciarra, and Evan Sharp. First announced in March 2010, the site launched into public beta in November 2010. Pinterest’s headquarters are located in San Francisco, with offices in New York City, Chicago, London, and Dublin. The website is available in seven languages: English, Dutch, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Portuguese.
Pinterest is a free web and mobile application that users can use to organize and share pictures of things they have seen via category boards. These category boards are composed by the user and each board is themed or curated to a specific interest. Pinterest allows users to save images and categorize them on different “pinboards”, which can be publicly viewed by other users. An account is required to save an image. Pinterest’s popularity has increased since 2010 when it emerged as “the fastest growing social network of all time.
Reddit (owned by Conde Nast)
Reddit is an American social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. Reddit’s registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links. Registered users can then vote submissions up or down that determine their position on the page. The submissions with the most positive votes appear on the front page or “default front page” (default: posted at midnight Pacific Time). For each submission, the user can also press a button that saves an image and embeds it in a user’s profile. Reddit was founded by University of Virginia roommates Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian in 2005.
Alexis Ohanian provides administrative services to the company and is a member of its board of directors. Other founders include Aaron Swartz (co-founder of RSS), and Kenyatta Berry (a writer and entrepreneur). Reddit is based in San Francisco, California.
Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send self-destructing photos and videos to their friends. Users choose whether to share the only visible part of a photo with those they are messaging. This technology has caused controversy because some fear that it encourages amateurs and voyeurs to take photographs which could cause harm or embarrassment to others.
Snapchat’s headquarters are in Venice, California. In 2013, Snapchat was ranked as the third most popular social networking site globally and the most popular by teenagers.
Tiktok is an application that creates and shares animated, interactive short videos. It allows users to create a video in less than a minute. The video is automatically shared with friends via email, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube. One of Tiktok’s innovations was its use of on-screen comments and response buttons to facilitate communication between various users.
Users can invite friends to receive notifications (e.g. via SMS or email) when a new video is uploaded. The application can be used on iOS or Android devices.
In March 2010, Tiktok announced that it had been included in both the “Best of App Store” and ranking as one of the highest-rated mobile applications in the United States by Apple Inc.
Sina Weibo (owned by Sina Corporation)
Sina Weibo is a microblogging website and mobile application in China. It is operated by Sina Corporation, which acquired the website and the rights to use the name from the Chinese search engine Baidu in 2007. The word web means “microblog.” In China, the service is only accessible to registered users on the mainland, but it is also accessible in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It has been exported to some countries, including Japan. Sina Weibo has 288 million registered Chinese accounts as of December 2012, making it the most used social networking service in China based on the number of users. As of June 2014, there were 300 million active user accounts; however, this includes third-party applications not managed by Sina Corporation.
As of September 2017, Sina Weibo has 302 million users, the number of monthly active users was about 135 million, and the number of daily active users was around 100 million. The service is called “web” because it provides microblogging services (shortened as wei in Chinese). It also allows users to share multimedia and other content. The content shared on Weibo can be viewed via web browsers or smartphone apps. Users can also message each other directly on foreign messaging apps such as Line.
All of these companies have been directly and indirectly involved with the Chinese Communist Party:
Baidu, Sina, Tencent, and Youkou have helped the CCP censor the Internet. Google has provided China with a version of its search engine that restricts information that does not meet the CCP’s standards. Some Chinese government organizations and companies use LinkedIn to facilitate communication. YouTube, owned by Google, has been used to censor videos even when they do not violate the Chinese constitution. Facebook is used by the Chinese government and Internet security agencies to re-educate and monitor citizens who are members of opposition groups. Twitter is banned in China except for a few users. The CCP censors these social media sites to trap and prevent dissidents from speaking their minds.
It is not hard to see why the CCP has such “hardcore” censorship of its citizen’s Internet usage. The CCP leaders know they must stay in power to escape jail. To do this, they must maintain control of the Chinese people. They do this through their propaganda machine and a powerful military force. The Internet allows citizens to communicate and “think freely” like the rest of the world, and they don’t want that. The CCP wants to control the information the Chinese people receive to keep the citizens weak and unable to resist them.
So, why are so many influential American and Western companies helping China in its quest to oppress its citizens? One reason is money. Having a major foothold in China’s economy may help these companies become more profitable. With more profits, these large companies will be able to pay off their expensive lobbying operations to influence American lawmakers who represent American citizens, not Chinese citizens. Lobbying is a huge part of American politics, so the more money there is to be made by influencing our lawmakers, the easier it is for these companies to accomplish their goals.
Another reason these influential companies help China is because of America’s system of laws and justice. In America, we are guaranteed freedom of speech, which means we are protected from legal charges based on what we say or write. Imagine how that would apply if your words triggered violence and riots in your country. Fortunately for us, we are protected by our laws, but China is different. In China, you can be arrested and jailed for speaking your mind and questioning the government’s authority or actions. They have State Secrets Acts that punish individuals who speak against the Communist Party, which is why the CCP feels they must censor the Internet. They do not want the dissent to roll over into the streets, so the CCP has to censor that information too.
Another reason is thanks to our allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both of these countries are very close to China, and both have their ways of monitoring their citizens. They also censor Internet access, but they censor everyone in their countries completely — not just those they find offensive or who challenge them politically. I’m sure you can see why companies outside of America would be eager to help China with this type of censorship. If you are a company that deals in the lucrative oil industry, then you have a lot to lose if your citizens decide to rebel against the government by rioting.
Why would they riot?
An example will be if they feel their country’s leaders are cooperating with another country to promote terrorism and extremism. That happened recently when Chinese citizens in Xinjiang province started riots and protests against their government’s cooperation with Israel. Israel and China have been very close in the past decade. They have cooperated in the aerospace industry and even traded military information. When the Palestinians started to riot violently in 2011, China stood with Israel and agreed that the most violent protesters should be removed from the country so they could not cause any more destruction or deaths. Like American law enforcement officers, China’s police used their batons to remove these violent protesters from their country.
In 2011, the Chinese government passed the anti-terrorism law, which allows the military to be deployed to Xinjiang province and other areas where conflict exists. This law also allows the government to hold people for up to 6 months without having them charged with a crime or a trial. The purpose of this law is to stop terrorism and violent extremism called the “Xinjiang separatist movement.” In late 2016, China decided to expand its definition of terrorism so that it could punish more people who participated in these political movements. Depending on the situation, these people could be imprisoned for up to 15 years.
The CCP may arrest you for talking to your friends in an online chat room. They can arrest you for expressing your thoughts of having corruption in the government through videos posted on YouTube. Suppose a company that has sent workers to China for many years gets caught doing something illegal and corrupt. In that case, they may have their businesses seized by the government simply because they have taken money from citizens living there. Many American businesses have been operating in China for many years, and the agreements they have signed with Chinese authorities have covered not only their operations but also their workers.
The CCP will arrest you for expressing your thoughts of being a Christian or having any other religion besides theirs. They will block the site you went to read the Bible on the Internet. The CCP will take away your freedom of speech and choose what you can say that is acceptable to them. The government and their companies will decide what you can say or write.
China’s Communist Party is officially a political party, which means they must follow laws. For example, when a general rule is broken in China, people who have committed it can be punished. Likewise, when a political party ignores constitutional laws and does not follow them, this party may face punishment for this violation. In the case of the CCP, they are immune to such legal action since they are already part of the Chinese government and hold all power.