YouTube like Facebook has the ability to reach millions all around the world. Both social tools connect netizens and provide a platform for users to share content with other users. They document reality and portray events, opinions as well as ideas. Hence, both YouTube and Facebook have been (and still are) utilised for social and political purposes. Alex @viettan160 tweeted (4:22 AM, 10 Oct 12) “It’s amazing how social media has transformed communications—meeting new friends, discovering food blogs http://hochiminhcookingclass.com/”
In Mary Grace Antony and Ryan J. Thomas’ ‘“This is citizen journalism at its finest”: YouTube and the public sphere’ (in New Media and Society, 2010), the role of citizen journalism and that of mainstream journalism are examined. They draw on the work of Donohue et al, to discuss how journalism has been relegated from a watchdog that safeguarding society to a guard dog. As a ‘sentry’, (Antony & Thomas, 2010: 1282) the mainstream media is no longer fulfilling the ideal of the fourth estate (as the fourth pillar of democracy) but instead it now protects the interests of powerful stakeholders. This transition they argue is a result of the rise of citizen journalism and the reconceputualisation of the public sphere. Habermas’ theory of public sphere is defined as ‘a network for communicating information and points of view’ (Habermas, 1996: 360) and in saying that it is obvious that YouTube and Facebook are both part of the public sphere.
Antony and Thomas, analyse the Oscar Grant shooting incident that occurred in January of 2009 as a case study to demonstrate the effectiveness of social media in terms of providing a forum for discussion and bringing about justice for the victim.
I think that in many ways, YouTube and Facebook perpetuate social and political uses. Though the motivations behind the use of these social media may not be apparent at first, there is always a reason why a netizens would put up content or post comments. Tying it back to my theme of food, I would say that these social media platforms are complimenting the cooking/Masterchef craze that has swept Australia in recent years. In tandem with popular reality cooking shows, social media has (amongst other things) encouraged people to cook at home and appreciate homemade meals whilst promoting health and nutrition.