Author Archives: Allison Nichols

Students use Social Media During the SMU Power Outage to get Midterms Canceled

Tuesday evening,  the SMU power outage caused an uproar among students as they attempted to study for midterms through a displacement period and lack of Wifi.  A petition quickly swept through the campus more virally that anything the college has seen in its recent memory. The ability to get almost an entire student population to sign a petition in under three hours shows the close online network of students on college campuses.

Around 4:30 pm, the SMU power outage took out all the lights and wifi on campus. Working quickly, SMU sent out emergency messages demanding everyone on campus and in the dorms evacuate immediately. The messages requested students relocate to United Methodist Church in Highland Park, claiming that they were prepared to house students overnight. The SMU power outage had taken out the entire campus’ network including wifi.

The SMU Power Outage and Evacuation Caused Outrage Among Students

The problem these displaced SMU students faced was without access to the library the internet. Even those off campus did not have access to any SMU website. Due to this, for many students, studying became impossible. Many students with midterms the next day faced immense frustration at the loss of time to prepare for the upcoming test. In response to the overwhelming outrage, a particular student, Will Jones, started a petition. The Change.Org petition titled, ‘Cancel SMU Classes on Wednesday, October 4th Due to the Evacuation’ spread quickly among angry SMU students.

SMU power outage petitionThe petition met its original goal of 500 signatures within minutes. Students started sharing the link on their Facebook pages. Within 45 minutes the petition reached the new goal of 2000. By then the story was gaining traction. People were posting links to Snapchat and Instagram stories, urging every SMU student they knew to sign. By 10 pm over 5,000 people had signed the petition. With an undergrad population of 6,000, this was hard for the provost to ignore. While the administration did not cancel classes, they did send out an email urging all professors to cancel midterms for the following day.

The takeaway from this event is the power that social media has between students in a college. At some point, almost every single student at the school saw the petition and signed it. The ability for students to quickly connect online to one another turned out to be the driving force in this powerful movement. Shareable items such as these have the visibility of an entire campus.  With the right content, these posts can have an immense response rate to their call to action. This fact is key to keep in mind while starting future movements on college campuses.

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Why Twitter is Changing their 140 Character Limit

Twitter announced Tuesday that the social media platform would move away from their infamous 140 character limit on their tweets. The new limit will double the old one at 280 characters. This fundamental change leaves twitter fans confused as to what prompted this expanded limit. This site since its beginning has been set on their unchanging 140 character limit. Continue reading

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The Implications of Getting News from Facebook

Before the invention of the internet, the world received all of its news from newspapers and televised broadcasts. In this time, those medias controlled how people understood the news because only professional journalists provided the content. These news sources maintain a certain journalistic standard that people find trustworthy. Now people get their news from Facebook.

News from social media has been a growing trend since the advent but, the vast majority of users reading their news from social media, get their news from Facebook. The Pew Research Center reports that 67% of all adults use Facebook. Considering 67% of adult Facebook users report getting their news from Facebook alone, this means 44% of the general population only get their news from Facebook.

An increasing number of adults get their news from Facebook alone

Statistic from Pew Research Center on those who get their news from Facebook

This statistic causes both shock and concern. The problem with almost half of adults receiving their news from Facebook is that this ‘news’ can come from any corner of the internet. These articles people share and post do not always have the rigorous editing and verifying process that traditional news sources have. Bloggers who have no one to answer to for using false facts/statistics or inputting far too much opinion write the majority of articles that go viral on Facebook.  These bloggers know this and use it to their advantage. These articles spread their personal agendas, on both sides of the aisle.

Facebook uses algorithms that show users what they are most likely to click on. This puts more and more of the news they currently read on their feed. Say one user always clicks on conservative articles, Facebook will continue to show conservative-leaning news. Same goes for liberals or independents. The real world implications of this are that these groups are reading completely separate narratives. This causes people to view the world news in a completely polarizing way. The real difference that we are seeing is that the world used to read the same stories and make opinions from there. The 44% of American adults now read opinions and decide the news from there.

The takeaway here is that people should vary how they receive their news. Social media alone will not cut it anymore. It simply does not show the full picture. To be truly informed the importance of reading all types of news. The kind you agree with and the kind you do not.

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Snapchat’s Snap Map Feature

Snapchat’s Snap Map not only changes the way we consume news but adds an extra dimension. The function allows users to watch videos from snapchat hot spots. These show anything from a popular sporting event, a tourist location, and most interestingly places where events unfold, all in real time. Hurricane Harvey serves as a great example to how we can use snapchat to gain further insights into the news we receive from television, newspapers, blogs, and other forms of social media. Similar to Twitter, Snapchat’s Snap Map feature gives real time updates of the people living through the events. It also gives the added value of a visual in the form of a video.

Hurricane Harvey Shows us how Useful Snapchat’s Snap Map can be

During Hurricane Harvey Snapchat’s Snap Map marked the location with a “Houston Strong” tab for those who wanted to watch the devastation and the aftermath through the eyes of those living through it. Those who watched during that week saw the evolution of Houston from the hurricane to the beginning of recovery. In the first days users saw strong winds blowing down trees and tearing down anything not firmly planted in the ground. As the first wave of snapchats disappeared, new ones took their place. Not only did we see the flooding take its tolls on peoples homes and belongings but we saw their genuine reactions and emotions. While the news gives facts, shots, and interviews, snapchat takes an unfiltered an unedited collection of stories. This gives a true human perspective unlike any other kind of media. Each story gives a different point of view but also adds to a singular narrative. So many stories showed heartbreak, fear, and uncertainty, but also so many more showed collective hope, community, and strength. Together thousands of individual snapshots created one cohesive and all encompassing story of a city going through devastation and rebuilding.

Snapchat's Snap Map showing the Houston Strong tab

 

 

Through Snapchat’s Snap Map we saw a more authentic view of Hurricane Harvey’s effect on Houston. This feature lends itself to being a valuable tool while learning about events, and allows for current updates from the center of the action. As communicators staying up to date and current on events goes hand in hand with the job. Snapchat’s Snap Map feature allows extra depth to the news we consume in other ways and will in time prove to be an essential piece of any developing story.

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