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Social Media Logic: The Amplification of Media Effects

Same, same but ... amplified.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

Social media logic is just media logic’ — amplified.

In this blog post, social media logic refers to the media effects that social media plat­forms have on com­mu­nic­a­tion and con­tent dissemination. 

Apart from a heightened level of com­plex­ity, social media logic is sur­pris­ingly sim­il­ar to clas­sic media logic. From a the­or­et­ic­al per­spect­ive, they’re both forms of media.

However, social net­works seem to amp­li­fy the effects of clas­sic media logic.

Here we go:

Enter: Social Media Logic

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Social Media Logic

Media logic is a set of the­or­ies describ­ing how the medi­um affects the media. Typically, the format (as the medi­um dic­tates) influ­ences the medi­ated message.

Media logic is defined as a form of com­mu­nic­a­tion, and the pro­cess through which media trans­mit and com­mu­nic­ate inform­a­tion. The logic and guidelines become taken for gran­ted, often insti­tu­tion­al­ized, and inform social inter­ac­tion. A basic prin­ciple is that media, inform­a­tion tech­no­lo­gies, and com­mu­nic­a­tion formats can affect events and social activ­it­ies.“
Source: The International Encyclopedia of Political Communication 1Altheide, D. L. (2016). Media Logic. The International Encyclopedia of Political Communication, 1 – 6. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​2​/​9​7​8​1​1​1​8​5​4​1​5​5​5​.​w​b​i​e​p​c​088

As fam­ously stip­u­lated by Marshall McLuhan, “The medi­um is the mes­sage.” What are the typ­ic­al media logic effects on medi­ated messages?

Classic Media Logic Effects

Media logic is hypo­thes­ised to influ­ence the news media in the fol­low­ing ways: 2Nord, L., & Strömbäck, J. (2002, January). Tio dagar som skakade världen. En stud­ie av medi­ernas beskrivningar av ter­ror­at­tack­erna mot USA och kri­get i Afghanistan hösten 2001. ResearchGate; … Continue read­ing

  • Aggravation. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will exag­ger­ate events, con­cepts, and ideas to make them seem more ser­i­ous and/​or dan­ger­ous than they are.
  • Simplification. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will dumb down events, con­cepts, and ideas to make them seem more under­stand­able than they are.
  • Polarisation. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will por­tray events, con­cepts, and ideas as more conflicting/​provoking than they are.
  • Intensification. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will sen­sa­tion­al­ise events, con­cepts, and ideas to make them more inter­est­ing than they are.
  • Concreteness. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will report events, con­cepts, and ideas as more straight­for­ward than they are.
  • Personalisation. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will over-emphas­ise the role of named indi­vidu­als in con­junc­tion with events, con­cepts, and ideas.
  • Stereotypisation. As a res­ult of media logic, the news media will frame events, con­cepts, and ideas as more aligned with con­ven­tion­al perceptions/​opinions than they are.

The above media logic effects can also be recog­nised in social media. Still, social net­work algorithms seem to add even more effects:

Social Media Logic Effects

Social media logic, rooted in pro­gram­mab­il­ity, pop­ular­ity, con­nectiv­ity, and datafic­a­tion, is increas­ingly entangled with mass media logic, impact­ing vari­ous areas of pub­lic life.”
Source: Writing Technologies eJournal 3Dijck, J., & Poell, T. (2013). Understanding Social Media Logic. Writing Technologies eJournal. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​7​6​4​5​/​M​A​C​.​V​1​I​1​.70

Based on the sug­ges­ted addi­tions for social plat­forms, we can add four extra dimen­sions to the clas­sic media logic effects model:

  • Programmability. Social media logic enables and encour­ages users to cre­ate and manip­u­late con­tent, lead­ing to a tailored por­tray­al of events, con­cepts, and ideas that might not fully rep­res­ent reality.
  • Popularity. Driven by social media logic, con­tent that gains ini­tial pop­ular­ity can dis­pro­por­tion­ately influ­ence pub­lic per­cep­tion, regard­less of accur­acy or completeness.
  • Connectivity. Social medi­a’s inter­con­nec­ted nature, rein­forced by social media logic, facil­it­ates the rap­id spread of inform­a­tion, often without suf­fi­cient veri­fic­a­tion, lead­ing to a dis­tor­ted under­stand­ing of events and ideas.
  • Datafication. The social media logic of con­vert­ing inter­ac­tions into data points emphas­ises quan­ti­fi­able aspects of events, con­cepts, and ideas, poten­tially over­look­ing their qual­it­at­ive nuances.

Social media logic seems entangled with clas­sic media logic. While more com­plex, social net­works seem to amp­li­fy the effects of clas­sic media logic.

Learn more: Social Media Logic: The Amplification of Media Effects

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More Participation, More Interaction

Unlike tra­di­tion­al media logic, social media logic is char­ac­ter­ised by a more par­ti­cip­at­ory and inter­act­ive nature, where users are not only con­sumers of con­tent but also act­ive cre­at­ors and sharers. 

This demo­crat­isa­tion of con­tent cre­ation leads to diverse voices and per­spect­ives. Still, it also poses chal­lenges such as the rap­id spread of mis­in­form­a­tion and the form­a­tion of echo cham­bers. 4Silfwer, J. (2022, September 6). Social Media — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​o​c​i​a​l​-​m​e​d​ia/

Social media logic is driv­en by algorithms pri­or­it­ising engage­ment (likes, shares, com­ments), often favour­ing sen­sa­tion­al or emo­tion­ally charged con­tent. This can lead to the amp­li­fic­a­tion of extreme view­points and polar­ising con­tent. 5Silfwer, J. (2021, May 15). Social Media Algorithms and How They Rule Our Lives. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​o​c​i​a​l​-​m​e​d​i​a​-​a​l​g​o​r​i​t​h​ms/

Additionally, social media plat­forms facil­it­ate real-time com­mu­nic­a­tion and net­work­ing, mak­ing them power­ful tools for social mobil­isa­tion and com­munity build­ing. However, this same inter­con­nectiv­ity can lead to the rap­id escal­a­tion of con­flicts and the spread of ‘fake news’. 

In essence, social media plat­forms sig­ni­fic­antly shape pub­lic opin­ion, often emphas­ising pop­ular­ity and engage­ment over accur­acy and depth, rede­fin­ing how inform­a­tion is con­sumed, shared, and under­stood in the digit­al age.


Please sup­port my PR blog by shar­ing it with oth­er com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

PR Resource: More Media Logic

The media’s the most power­ful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the inno­cent guilty and to make the guilty inno­cent, and that’s power.”
— Malcolm X

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ANNOTATIONS
ANNOTATIONS
1 Altheide, D. L. (2016). Media Logic. The International Encyclopedia of Political Communication, 1 – 6. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​0​0​2​/​9​7​8​1​1​1​8​5​4​1​5​5​5​.​w​b​i​e​p​c​088
2 Nord, L., & Strömbäck, J. (2002, January). Tio dagar som skakade världen. En stud­ie av medi­ernas beskrivningar av ter­ror­at­tack­erna mot USA och kri­get i Afghanistan hösten 2001. ResearchGate; Styrelsen för psyko­lo­giskt förs­var. https://​www​.researchg​ate​.net/​p​u​b​l​i​c​a​t​i​o​n​/​2​7​1​0​1​4​6​2​4​_​T​i​o​_​d​a​g​a​r​_​s​o​m​_​s​k​a​k​a​d​e​_​v​a​r​l​d​e​n​_​E​n​_​s​t​u​d​i​e​_​a​v​_​m​e​d​i​e​r​n​a​s​_​b​e​s​k​r​i​v​n​i​n​g​a​r​_​a​v​_​t​e​r​r​o​r​a​t​t​a​c​k​e​r​n​a​_​m​o​t​_​U​S​A​_​o​c​h​_​k​r​i​g​e​t​_​i​_​A​f​g​h​a​n​i​s​t​a​n​_​h​o​s​t​e​n​_​2​001
3 Dijck, J., & Poell, T. (2013). Understanding Social Media Logic. Writing Technologies eJournal. https://​doi​.org/​1​0​.​1​7​6​4​5​/​M​A​C​.​V​1​I​1​.70
4 Silfwer, J. (2022, September 6). Social Media — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​o​c​i​a​l​-​m​e​d​ia/
5 Silfwer, J. (2021, May 15). Social Media Algorithms and How They Rule Our Lives. Doctor Spin | The PR Blog. https://​doc​tor​spin​.net/​s​o​c​i​a​l​-​m​e​d​i​a​-​a​l​g​o​r​i​t​h​ms/
Shareable:
Social media logic is just ’media logic’—amplified.
Shareable:
Same, same but ... amplified.
Shareable:
Social media logic is surprisingly similar to classic media logic.
Shareable:
Social networks seem to amplify the effects of classic media logic.
Shareable:
Social media logic is driven by algorithms prioritising engagement (likes, shares, comments), often favouring sensational or emotionally charged content.
Shareable:
Algorithms often favour popularity and engagement over accuracy and depth, redefining how information is consumed, shared, and understood in the digital age.
Shareable:
Aggravation, simplification, polarisation, intensification, concreteness, personalisation, stereotypisation, programmability, popularity, connectivity, and datafication.
Shareable:
Social media logic puts a greater emphasis on user engagement and interaction.
Shareable:
Unlike traditional media logic, social media logic is more participatory and interactive in nature.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwerhttps://doctorspin.net/
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at Spin Factory and KIX Communication Index. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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