With participatory culture comes backlash

Social media has that level of anonymity that makes cyber bullying and trolling all the more easier to engage in. People can basically say whatever they want to whomever they choose, whether that be an innocent little kid or a person of celebrity status. And most of the time people aren’t getting caught out for it. It is this somewhat false pretense that people assume where they can become someone else online and don’t have to take any responsibility for it.

For instance, Charlotte Dawson was one woman often represented in the media for her outlandish personality. She often asserted her opinions and in return suffered from misogynistic abuse. Her twitter page was a medium where people so-called ‘trolled’ her until her death. This repellent behavior is not something new, cyber bulling has been evident for quiet some time, however it seems as if it’s more prominent today because of the emergence of numerous participatory social media platforms.

It is not just people like Charlotte Dawson but women collectively who have been subject to invective abuse. Women in the media, commentators and columnists have been reluctant in publishing their opinions because of the drastic cyber abuse. As a result women across the political spectrum have joined together to try and put a stop to anonymous name-calling (Roger and Thorpe, 2011)

With participatory culture comes significant backlash. Social media platforms will continue to attract trolls and misogynistic maniacs because of the inherent anonymous nature of such outlets.



Thorpe, V & Richards R, 2011, Women bloggers call for a stop to hateful trolling by misogynist men, the guardian, viewed 15 May 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/nov/05/women-bloggers-hateful-trolling




Clicktivism or simply Slacktivism

Clicktivism or online activism embraces the use of social media to promote issues and influence public opinion on matters relating to politics, religion or other social concerns.

But realistically is Clicktivism really the right way to go in ‘doing your bit to help.’ Anyone can quite simply share a link or digitally like something. But in actual fact how is that really helping.

Kony 2012 is one example that although created significant awareness, it had 70 million views within the first four days and over 100 million views by the first week; it became rather inadequate in achieving what it set out to.

Yes, the support that was generated created awareness typically in western society, however the cause didn’t take into consideration those on the receiving end. It didn’t make people act, it simply made people watch.

Today there continues to be a number of causes vying for our attention and social media has been the medium to which these issues have been asserted. Like Kony, many campaigns have continued to create global activism through participation. However, the issues surrounding Clicktivism have created a false reality. Issues have been oversimplified through the belief that liking something will save child soldiers in Uganda.

Social media has demonstrated that when one emotive video comes along, society is instantaneously taken by it and by hitting ‘repost’ or ‘retweet’ people are made to believe they are consciously contributing to a cause.


Park, A 2013, Clicktivism: Why social media is not good for charity, SBS, viewed 15 May 2014, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2013/11/18/clicktivism-why-social-media-not-good-charity

The Age of Remix

When googling examples of remix culture and mashups an abundance of music videos pop up, making it extremely difficult not to sample a good majority of them. But what is about taking someone’s own work and reconfiguring it into something of your own. Whether it’s for entertainment, the amount of views it receives or the notion of creativity, people have become fixated on this phenomenon.

Remix culture is not something new, but in terms of technological convergence it has become a new sensation in its own right in regards to modern computing technologies. Axel Bruns defines remix culture as the “collaborative efforts to engage in creative, artistic mashups [and] can be described as a form of distributed creativity: they are projects which harness the creativity of a large range of participants to build on and extend an existing pool of artistic materials” (Bruns, 2010).

So basically because of the availability of today’s technologies that enable people to actively contribute, people have embraced this participatory media culture through forms of remixes and mashups as a part of cultural existence and expression.

However, it’s not without saying that issues have surfaced regarding the legalities of engaging in such activities without permission of the copyright owner. The line is blurred when it comes to consumers and producers. Whether remixes are a product of stealing or simply advancing, they fundamentally promote the original source. (Not that Beyoncé needs any extra promotion)

Here are two remixes of Beyoncé song Drunk in Love…. enjoy!


Bruns, A 2010, Distributed creativity: filesharing and produsage, http://emerymartin.net/FE503/Week6/Bruns-Distributed%20Creativity%20-%20Filesharing%20and%20Produsage.pdf



“Transmedia storytelling represents a process where integral elements of a fiction get dispersed systematically across multiple delivery channels for the purpose of creating a unified and coordinated entertainment experience.” (Jenkins)

The Instagram platform is not classified as a form of transmedia, however it does have the ability to contribute to transmedia narratives through providing effective distribution channels. According to Jenkins, “a media conglomerate has an incentive to spread its brand or expand its franchise across as many different media platforms as possible.”

Today, images as a form of media content have become significantly powerful in the area of promotion and creating awareness (eg. Bring back our girls posters). The Instagram framework makes photo and video sharing available to everyday users as well as massive corporations, enabling participation in the production of content.

In particularly the fashion industry has embraced Instagram as platform of global storytelling. It has become the network of choice for high profile brands because of the inherent visual nature of the app. Brands such as Oscar de La Renta gave fans an exclusive look at its 2013 fall campaign via its release through the app. It is through the use of photos and video installments that Instagram has contributed to transmedia storytelling by enabling parts of the narration to viewed and transferred across different channels eg. to other channels such as facebook, which has subsequently created an experience for users.

Similarly, The band Kings of Leon have used Instagram to promote their new album, Mechanical bull. Clips of new songs have been uploaded, giving viewers a preview. This again has created significant ‘hype’ surrounding the band and their upcoming tour.

By releasing a picture from a campaign or a snippet of a video clip, Instagram is allowing participation through liking, following and creating a large community through the hashtag. The app is fundamentally engaging users, allowing people to revel in the story.


Ciccolini, K 2013, Oscar de la Renta Uses Instagram to Reveal Fall Fashion Campaign, Skyword, viewed 9 May 2014, http://www.skyword.com/contentstandard/news/oscar-de-la-renta-uses-instagram-to-reveal-fall-fashion-campaign/

Doran, S 2012, What Instagram Means for Luxury Brands, Luxurysociety, viewed 9 may 2014, http://luxurysociety.com/articles/2012/08/what-instagram-means-for-luxury-brands

Jenkins, H 2007, Transmedia Storytelling 101, Confessions of an Aca-Fan- The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins, viewed on 9 May 2014, http://henryjenkins.org/2007/03/transmedia_storytelling_101.html

Webstagram, 2014, Kings of leon, Web.stagram, viewed 9 may 2014, http://web.stagram.com/n/kingsofleon/

Produsage and Instagram

After Instagram recently hit 200 million users, the platform has undeniably become one of the leading applications in today’s user generated environment. It is this collaborative, participatory environment that the break down of boundaries between producers and consumers has led to all participants becoming users and producers (produsers) of media content (Bruns).

Instagram has taken on board this notion of produsage in its entirety. With Bruns defining produsage as “the collaborative and continuous building and extending of existing content in pursuit of further improvement,” meaning that the instagram platform is a never ending cycle of progression.

Bruns identifies four characteristics of Produsage that can be applied to Instagram.

  1. Organisational shift: meaning the transition from dedicated individuals and teams to a wider range of community participants that can individually contribute to content. Instagram encourages anyone to actively contribute by posting, following, liking and commenting on photos.
  1. Fluid movement: refers to individuals of status as leaders, participants, and users and the background of such, ranging from professional to amateur. Instagram is often used for marketing and advertising purpose, which enables users to follow high profile companies. In conjunction to this, the app is also used as a form of social networking or a hobby to which everyday individuals can engage in.
  1. Unfinished: unfinished speaks for itself, artefacts are not products; they are in a sense incomplete and constantly under development. Instagram updates the app every few months and continually is adding new features or enhancing the previous ones. This highlights the advancements in technological outlets.
  1. Permissive: inferringthat produsage employs copyright systems that recognize the source while prohibit unauthorized use. With Instagram being user-generated there is a significant amount of freedom given to the users, which has in turn led to copyright issues. Despite Instagram stating that if you take a photo then you own the copyright to it, there has been concern surrounding Instagrams ability to use photos. This is where licenses such as Creative commons have been established to counteract this.


Bruns, A., 2007, ‘Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation’ in ‘Proceedings Creativity & Cognition 6′Washington, DC, http://eprints.qut.edu.au/6623/1/6623.pdf


INSTAGRAM…… Producers vs. Consumers

“Some fear the media is out of control; others that it is too controlled” (Jenkins, 2004). This accurately describes society’s current standing, and the increasingly technologically savvy 21st century that we are experiencing first hand.

Media, in all its forms has served as a platform to immerse society in, making people subject to conform to the pressures of technology. However, the anxieties of technology that once presented themselves have taken a turn in regards to changing attitudes. With ‘old’ consumers once being deemed compliant, the so called ‘new’ consumers have become actively involved (Jenkins, 2004), challenging media control.

 “ They are fighting for the right to participate more fully in their culture, and to control the flow of media in their lives.” (Jenkins, 2004)

 As the process of convergence exists as both a top-down producer driven process and a bottom-up consumer process (Jenkins, 2004), this is where major tensions have transpired between producers and consumers. The function of convergence has become a reconfiguration of media power, shifting patterns of media ownership.

Today consumers are actively participating in the flow of media; they have an impact on the production and consumption of media content. This is primarily through the proliferation of user-generated platforms, such as Instagram. The success of instagram comes down to its regarded ideologies and the structure of the application. With instagram you can quite literally snap on the go, snapping whenever you please and whatever you please (unless deemed inappropriate by Instagram). There is control given to users, allowing them freedom to follow and unfollow who they please, comment on and like what they want.

However, the problem with instagram is the ongoing debate surrounding the ownership of photos, which can be applied to Jenkins nine sites of negotiations between producers and consumers. The sixth point discussed by Jenkins raises some interesting issues in regards to redefining Intellectual property rights. It suggests that if every person’s work, or in this case photos are protected under intellectual property rights, it would potentially jeopardize the public’s right to engage in a free and creative culture (Jenkins, 2004).

While there is no doubt that Instagram has created a global community, it is the technological shift between producers and consumers that will undeniably continue to cause future tensions.



Jenkin, H, 2004, The Cultural Logic of Convergence, International Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol 7, p.33-43

If you’re not paying for the product, it usually means you are the product.

So what are the rights when it comes to using Instagram?

 The terms of use state that when signing up to Instagram, you are essentially accepting to be bound by their terms of agreement, and by not agreeing to these terms of use, well you are simply not allowed access to the service.

As the platform continues to grow, these terms have continued to be ignored like many other social media outlets. Simply acting as an irritating obstacle that must be overcome by ‘clicking yes’, in order to access the service, regardless if you have read the terms or not. Which lets be honest most of us haven’t…….

Today, Instagram has become one of the most renowned social networking applications. With it currently standing at 150 million users, with an average of 55 million photos shared each day and 3 photos uploaded every second.

However, with this constant inundation of photos, the real question that arises is who has the rights to these photos, you OR Instagram?

First of all Instagram is a free service, meaning anyone can have access to it without having to pay a cent. Secondly, under the copyright law, which claims that if you take a photo then you own the copyright to it, Instagram declares that it does not own the rights to any content. However, because the service is supported by advertising revenue, Instagram does have the right to share your content for advertisements and promotional purposes (Instagram, 2013).

One of the advantages of Instagram is the ability to sync your instagram account with other social media platforms such as facebook and twitter. But contrary to this, once your instagram photos are uploaded onto the Internet you are actually permitting social media sites a license to use your photos. The effect of this means that these social networking sites gain commercial profit for licensing your photos.

Since this rise in debate about who actually retains the rights to your photos, individuals like Philip Neustrom have responded by establishing a creative commons license. Neustrom’s, I am CCservice allows you to license your instagram photos under creative commons, which means that despite the fact that your photos are being released into the pubic realm, you are still retaining the credit.

And while Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram has stated, “It’s not our intention to sell your photos,” once you hit ‘share’ there is no guarantee that they are protected!


(Source: Google images)


Delsack, C, 2012, Who owns Photos and videos posted on Facebook, Instagram or twitter, viewed 24 March 2014, http://www.nyccounsel.com/business-blogs-websites/who-owns-photos-and-videos-posted-on-facebook-or-twitter/

Hawkins, S, 2014, Copyright and Attribution on Instagram, viewed 24 March 2014, http://sarafhawkins.com/instagram-copyright/

Instagram, 2013, Terms of Use, viewed 24 March 2014, http://instagram.com/legal/terms/

Neustrom, P, 2014, I-am-cc Manifesto, viewed 24 March 2014, http://i-am-cc.org/manifesto/