Communication and Social Media: MPC Research Goes Viral

Danielle Taylor, MPC2015

From its capacity to spark debates on privacy concerns, bring the latest in political news to fingertips, and facilitate brand-to-consumer interactions, social media is a hot topic of research for MPC students’ Major Research Projects (MRPs).

Project: Hands Off My Data! A Comparison of Privacy Representations and Expectations on Facebook

Author: Hayley Fuller, MPC2012

Exploring how the concept of privacy may be understood differently by Facebook and by its users, Fuller examines user expectations in relation to Facebook’s representation of online privacy in their Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. Fuller uses principles set out in the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act to analyze user comments made in response to online privacy changes.

Although findings show that both Facebook and its users consider the collection, use, disclosure, and retention of content and information to be important, the study reveals that the abstract manner in which Facebook portrays its online privacy policy contradicts the user assumption that privacy should be enforced as strictly and as transparently as data-control.

Project: #JustDoIt: Brand-to-Consumer Interaction via Twitter

Author: Jacky Au Duong, MPC2014

Jacky’s research is an investigation of Nike’s “Possibilities” campaign. The campaign encouraged users to share their athletic achievements under their infamous slogan-turned-viral-hashtag #justdoit.

Jacky explores how consumer interaction can be facilitated via Twitter. He considers how concepts of heteroglossia, the imagined audience, and ambient affiliation provide a framework to inform strategies that spark conversation and engage with end consumers on Twitter.

Project: Pictures in Politics: A Visual Social Semiotic Analysis of Federal Politicians on Instagram

Author: Karolina Karas, MPC2015

Applying visual social semiotic theory to a social media context, Karas presents a qualitative analysis of select images published on two Canadian politicians’ Instagram accounts and the elements their followers prefer.

By coding images into categories such as empathy, confidence, community outreach, and competence, the study concludes that the public’s values of politicians in traditional media should be accounted for when publishing to Instagram in order to construct a convincing political story on any social media platform.