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Social media has created new spaces for groups between the public and private.

Before social media, most communication was either mainly private and one-to-one (e.g. letters or the telephone), or public broadcasting (e.g. radio, TV, newspapers). By contrast, social media is mainly devoted to groups, and allows us to scale different sizes of audience and degrees of privacy.

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Chile

In this film we can see how Instagram became a key site of community solidarity after an earthquake; it became a place where people tried to convey their experience of disaster and marginalisation to a larger audience.

India

Social media has equally become an integral part of relationships within established groups, including the family.

England

People in the village provided several examples of how new groups on social media were more effective than traditional groups such as the church or one’s neighbours.

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Neighbours vs dog walkers

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Rural China

Here social media is used both to consolidate established ‘circles’ of friends, but is also a means for contacting strangers on the basis of common interests.

Italy

While social media is used by groups, these tend to be multiple, unstable and overlapping, with the exception of family groups. 

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Trinidad

Social media is useful for the recombination of people representing different kinds of relationships, such as family, friends and work colleagues.

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Industrial China

While here, as in the previous examples, social media is important for consolidating groups of similar people, it rarely seems to cross the boundaries between these groups.

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Social media as a ‘no-flow zone’