In 2015, the American cellular penetration, or the percentage of Americans who have smart phones, rose to over 50 percent. The increase in mobile technology and availability has given the public the ability to change from merely audience to being perpetuators, and even creators, of media. Before, information was given to us through a typical broadcaster or reporter, but now the public curates it’s own news through “following” different media avenues that align with their views and interests.
Current social platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Vine have all recently transformed from mainly personal means of communication to more media “sharing” roles. It is now possible to broadcast yourself, or your story, to thousands of people within minutes. This access to media has helped us realize we still have a voice in what goes on in our world. We may not be journalists or news reporters but we can still share how we feel, and now, we can actually have it reach someone important. In just recent weeks we have seen the kind of justice this increase in media production can do in the case of Ahmed Mohammed, a freshman in high school who was wrongly accused of constructing a bomb. Since publishing his story, even the President has acknowledged the injustice he shared.
Excessive public access to media does mean being able to share your story, which may be important, but it also means everyone can share any story, regardless of the ethics behind it. We see things constantly shared on Facebook, on Snapchat, on Vine that are at times too heavily opinionated and to the point of offense. Social media is not held to the same ethics or professionalism as traditional journalism which really poses a problem of readability and factuality of what is being shared.