social media vs mass media

keeping you and your family safe

All information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. Ninomiya Law, PLLC and Kent Ninomiya only provide legal advice to clients when there is a valid engagement agreement signed by both attorney and clients. The principal office of Ninomiya Law, PLLC is located in Round Rock, Texas. Ninomiya Law, PLLC is responsible for the content of this website.

In order to understand how media currently works in our society, you must first recall how it used to work. ​Just ten to twenty years ago, media was one way. Television, newspapers, and magazines dominated the public conversation. Corporations owning these mass media entities controlled the dissemination of information to the public. The mass media told everyone what was important and the public believed it was important because they saw it in the mass media. 

Social media changed all that. Now everyone has a media voice that could potentially "go viral" and spread around the world. This shifted the power to control the public conversation to the individual. Mass media outlets now look to social media to tell them what is important. Television broadcasts show YouTube videos and quote Twitter tweets. The mass media no longer tells the public what is important. "Going viral" is now what validates the importance of an issue.

Having the mass media dictate the public conversation was not necessarily a bad thing. Broadcast outlets are subject to government regulation and all news outlets derive legitimacy from their reputations of integrity. Journalists were supposed to report the news by an ethical code and being caught violating the code was a great dishonor. People defamed by the mass media could sue an identifiable corporate owner and often won multi-million dollar judgments. The mass media did not wield its power with reckless abandon. Its actions were held in check by a real fear of consequences if mistakes were made.

On the other hand, social media has no such checks or balances to keep it under control. There is no journalistic ethical code of conduct for social media users. Few contemplate the consequences of their actions when posting social media content. It can be extremely difficult to identify, much less hold accountable, a social media user among the billions of social media users around the world. While social media enables the voiceless to have a voice and brings issues the mass media would have ignored to light, it also provides a forum to the worst elements of society and give a voice to those we would rather not hear.

Kent Ninomiya is a lawyer, journalist, and Internet entrepreneur who founded Ninomiya Law, PLLC to focus on social media law issues.