Exercise II: Facebook Feed

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On a denotative level, the desktop version of Facebook is organized into three main column, a top banner, and a chat bar on the right. Depending on the user, the top bar is unique only in the spot showing the user’s first name and profile picture. The left column has certain default links to things like the News Feed, Messenger, Groups, Events, Pages, etc. Users can customize and add links relevant to them in this column. In my case, I only have one shortcut that leads to the group “Iowa State DsnS 102.” The center column is the most unique portion that varies from user to user. Here, users can read posts from people they are friends with, pages they follow, as well as advertisements targeted to them based on internet search history. On the right column, there is a box that shows the top three trending news stories. Beneath that are two advertisements that change every few minutes. The chat window on the bottom right also varies from user to user. Some prefer to have the window expanded to form a full column with expanded information. Others prefer to have the chat feature completely turned off.

On a connotative level, Facebook represents connections. You connect with friends and organizations through the News Feed. You connect with the rest of the world through the Trending section. It fosters a sense of community. You can also tell that the site is free to use because of the ads. Facebook generates revenue via advertisements as opposed to charging a subscription fee.

What type of myth does Facebook promote? Interestingly, it can vary from day to day and user to user depending on what their friends are posting. Here’s a sample from what I just encountered in my News Feed and from my Trending category:

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Most of what I found was rather depressing. News about terror attacks, refugees, economic issues, and even a post about a dead kitty to tie it all together. Facebook may cause people to be depressed from reading sad posts or depressed about missing out on fun. It’s an edited view of the world. It may make people afraid to travel or go outside if they perceive these attacks as common.

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