On Facebook, people are revealing more about themselves than ever before including likes, opinions and preferences. With over a billion monthly active users many businesses are realising the potential of advertising on the site and becoming publishers to inform the public about their products and services. In this new paradigm, transparency is important and both people and brands are attempting to accurately represent themselves on the social networking service. This study analysed whether Facebook can be used to control, or influence the desires of the public and examined the infrastructure that delivers an interactive experience to hundreds of millions of users every day. This research outlines the methods used to manipulate consent and introduces Herman and Chomsky’s (1994) institutional critique of media behaviour and performance. Facebook’s ability to manufacture dissent was also considered and the study examined the role the social networking service played in popular uprisings and civil unrest around the world. The findings highlight the need to know more about the power of algorithms, but also the assumptions that social networks build into the algorithm architectures.

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Joe Dawson

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Media, communication