The forms of electronic communication that individuals and companies use to share information with friends, colleagues and customers. A primary feature of social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook is that people actively follow someone who posts content, and they are able to respond. For example, users can resend (retweet) messages on Twitter and reply to posts on Facebook. See retweet
Ordinary blogs may allow feedback, and some websites do as well, but social media is all about spreading information to participating users. Contrast with "industrial media," which refer to professionally produced radio, TV and film.
The terms "social media," "social network," "social networking," "social platform," "social neworking site" and "social networking service" are synonymous.
The danger with social media is that erroneous news travels as fast as or faster than genuine news. In Clint Watts' insightful book "Messing with the Enemy: Surviving in a social media world of hackers, terrorists, Russians and fake news" he explains why social media becomes "antisocial media" (see fake news
Worse yet, the social media platforms reinforce members' views of the world by feeding them similar information in the form of news and ads. Algorithms determine a person's social, religious and political opinions and feed them information that aligns with those views rather than giving them anything diverse or contradictory. These platforms have become extensions to radio, TV and Internet news, which over the past several decades have become opinion platforms that favor one side over the other. There is little balance in today's news from any single source except perhaps from "The Week," a print and online magazine noted for representing both sides in its articles. See viral content
, new media
, social networking service
and user-generated content