What does it mean to network using social media?

Social media networking refers to “…the use of dedicated websites and applications to interact with other users, or to find people with similar interests to oneself” (Oxford Languages, n.d.). For example, if I want to find other students studying Health Information Science at UVic to talk to, I would log on to LinkedIn and connect to people studying Health Information Science. The more people I connect with on LinkedIn, the larger my professional network becomes.

How are we motivated to participate in networked publics?

Most people are motivated to participate in networked publics because of these networks’ potential benefits. For example, participation in public networks allows people to connect with others in their profession or those who share the same interests. Individuals can build a Personal Learning Network (PLN) to advance their professional careers, increase their knowledge, and improve skills (Gutierrez, n.d.). Personally, I use networked public platforms like LinkedIn to look out for job opportunities, keep updated on events and news within my field, and to see where connections are working.

What are the risks & Rewards of public communications?

Those who participate in public communications can face privacy risks, limited control of their personal data, and in some cases, may experience discrimination as a result. Boyd (2012) explains how our data is collected based on our use of public communications to create aggregated “portraits” that help with predictions and creation of patterns to apply to others. The issue with these “portraits” is that they can be inaccurate or misinterpreted, thus leading to potential discrimination of individuals. Boyd (2012) further explains that it is almost impossible to have control over personal data while being involved in a network which leads to privacy concerns. There are also potential time, psychological, and social risks involved in participating in public communications (Khan et al., 2014).

Despite these risks, public communications also have benefits. As part of an individual’s Personal Learning Network (PLN), public communications can facilitate the building, maintaining, and activating of connections (Gutierrez, n.d.). LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms can play an important role in forming and expanding one’s connections, and thus the expansion of their knowledge base and professional development (Gutierrez, n.d.).