Driven by data; ridden with liberty.
It is the essence of social media that control over the content is irrevocably given to its users. Both the Guardian and the Independent have discovered this to their detriment. Benign articles about responses to British Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent speech – which stated that Britain “is a Christian country” – were shared on the popular site Facebook.
Facebook allows users to amend the title and summary of any links shared on the network. Authors of posts can also change what the previews on social media are, either directly in the website code or through an indirect means, such as a WordPress plug-in. One person then changed the presentation of Patrick Wintour’s article, initially entitled “David Cameron accused of fostering division in ‘Christian’ UK”, into “David Cameron accused of being a massive c**”. The surprising variation between the actual article and its Facebook preview led to the article being widely and quickly shared across the site.
The row over Britain’s status – or absence thereof – as a ‘Christian country’ will persist as long as there is an established church. However, this short episode demonstrates the power of social media: to make us laugh, to shock, to share our thoughts with one another.
"You're irritatingly eloquent." - Dick Puddlecote
"That's brave to put in writing." - Berin Midmer
"Well-referenced." - Tom Ash