Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Integrated Marketing Communication

First Advisor

Greg Brock

Second Advisor

Anna Grace Usery

Third Advisor

Debora Wenger

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

This thesis analyzes the global influence of the major social media platform Facebook, in real time. The text reviews Facebook’s guidelines and regulations and provides examples of significant social influence. It also analyzes possible solutions, why these solutions provide barriers, and recommendations for current Facebook users.

This information was collected by the individual during months of research. It started with a broader focus on the spread of false information and media literacy. After getting an in-depth understanding, it was decided to focus more specifically on Facebook. All information was collected from scholarly journals, news articles, books, and Facebook. The research was narrowed down to: the ins and outs of Facebook, studying current events that illustrate the global influence, the issue of lack of media literacy, and what recommendations users can take to become a more digitally literate consumer.

Facebook, a platform that has 2.45 billion monthly users, greatly influences society. Because Facebook is a global entity, the content posted on its platform cannot be regulated by one government entity. This contributes to issues such as the overwhelming spread of misinformation, influence in presidential elections, and modern-day genocides. Facebook is a massive network with billions of users and no accountability. Research established that Facebook has lenient guidelines about misinformation and political advertising and that these factors influenced the 2016 presidential election. An entire genocide took place in Myanmar, encouraged through Facebook propaganda for five years before the company became aware of it. The spread of misinformation and lack of regulation influenced many events for which Facebook will never have to take full accountability or be required to.

The problems are many; the solutions few. While global solutions and regulations are being sought, the thesis offers readers practical solutions and precautions to readers about how to practice media literacy, especially on Facebook.

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