All posts by kiahanddamonti

Everything on Social Media is Not Real ?

D’Amonti Batton-Jackson

Everything on Social Media is Not Real?

While it is becoming trendy for millennials to gather news primarily from cell phone devices, news outlets are adapting to remain relevant. By integrating into social media platforms, news outlets/organizations are more accessible.  With teenagers spending

It is said that:

  • “90 % of Millennials are using smartphones, 93% are accessing the internet, and 53% own tablets.”
  • “More than 60% of U.S. 13 to 34-year-old smartphone users are Snapchatters”
  • “27% of Millennials use Facebook less than once a week, and 11 % don’t even have an account”
  • “..59% of o9-16-year-olds active on social networking sites, 52% of them connected 24/7 via mobile phone or handheld device..


Clearly, being engaged is constantly at hand within the community of smartphone users. Social media plays a vital role in how we consume news now due to its instantaneous platform for information.


edelman-trust-baromoter-multiple-sourcesIs Social Media Newsworthy?

In examining the instance of Osama bin Laden being slain, it is said that Twitter first broke the news, not CNN or the New York Times.

“Before CNN or The New York Times confirmed that U.S. Navy SEALS did, in fact, kill Osama bin Laden, millions had already taken to their Twitter and Facebook pages to virally disperse the information.”

“If it wasn’t enough for the news to spread almost immediately via social media, one man caught his own 15 minutes of fame as he accidentally tweeted the raid as it occurred, not far from his home in Pakistan. Without realizing it, Sohaib Athar tweeted away about the pesky helicopters he heard overhead at 1:00a.m., which turned out to be U.S. forces descending upon bin Laden’s compound.


Sounds like news right?


istock_000012832686xsmallSo how does this tie into moral Panic?

How can someone validate the Tweets that were being sent out to confirm that in fact, it was the Navy SEALS ascending from helicopters in pursuit of Osama bin Laden? How can an initial tweet that shows bin Laden slain be taken as factual? In my opinion, it doesn’t have to be. In the world of social media, validity is assumed from popularity. The more people that agree with the certain topic/issue/ interest piece, the validation is confirmed by the previous naysayer, and you potentially validate it for the next. If the majority of people are using social media profiles, certainly it is expected that various news pieces would come across their news feed. So how can misinformation lead to moral panic? Let’s put this in theory.


So how can misinformation lead to moral panic? Let’s put this in theory.

Let’s put this in theory.

Step 1: Login to X (social media site)

Step 2: Scroll down news feed

Step 3: Read an article stating X (phenomenon that you fear)

Step 4: Share/Continuation of the information being spread through you

Step 5: Someone else reads the post, your status, tweet

Step 6: Recycle & repeat


By no means am I stating that this is the definite way social media spews out moral panic, but certainly people are more expressive through keyboards & smartphones.




Works Cited:

Could We Please Stop The Moral Panic Over Social Media ‘Addiction’?



Historically, how has moral panic transformed over time?

Kiah Earl

(think about the shift from news being on TV to social media platforms)

1. Radio Broadcast:

Orson Welles – “The War of the World’s” (1938)


  • writers thought the story was too outlandish to be believed by the general population.
  • CBS for 17 weeks: “Mercury Theatre on Air”
  • Newspapers took this opportunity to reclaim the market by calling the radio a non-credible source of news.

“I had conceived the idea of doing a radio broadcast in such a manner that a crisis would actually seem to be happening,” he said, “and would be broadcast in such a dramatized form as to appear to be a real event taking place at that time, rather than a mere radio play.” – Orson Welles

2. Comic Books: 

Fredric Wertham – “Seduction of the Innocent (1950s)

  • Led the anti-comics movement that argued that comic books negatively impacted the imagination of otherwise “normal” children.
  • Blamed comic books for exposing children to violence, homosexuality, and erotic behavior. (ex. Superman=Nazi Germany, Batman and Robin=Homosexuality, Wonder Woman=Lesbian)
  • Wertham’s ideas spread rapidly in postwar (WWII) America, and many patriotic organizations and churches planned book burnings.
  • Resulted in the comic book industry declining. Credited for bringing the entire comic book industry down.

3. TV broadcasting & Print Journalism 

HIV/AIDS & sex represented in the media (1980s) “The Gay 80’s”


4. Social media/Citizen Journalism:

  • based upon public citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information.
  • citizens can often report breaking news more quickly than traditional media reporters.

ex. the debate, police brutality (2014+)

Citizen Journalism main image.jpg

Works Cited:


Who benefits from public fear?

Kiah Earl

Moral panics maintains hegemony and serve to justify the agendas of those in positions of power (ex. government, CEOs).



Hegemony: the social, cultural, ideological, or economic influence exerted by a dominant group. Stay in tact through the use of signifying and signifiers (ex. “Trailer park trash”).

Moral panics have three distinguishing characteristics:

  1. Focused attention on the behavior, whether real or imagined. The media strips people of their positive qualities and assigns exclusively negative characteristics. (ex. Shootings in Dallas).
  2. Threat is far less than perceived. Media exaggerates before knowing the facts.
  3. Results in the passing of legislation that it unnecessary and serves the agenda of those in power.

Stanley Cohen: theorist and author of “Folk Devils and Moral Panics” (1972). Cohen said that moral panic occurs when a condition, episode, person or group emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests.



  1. the media plays a massive role in enforcing moral panic.
  2. the media overreact to behaviors that challenge existing social norms
  3. media response and representation of the behavior aids in defining it, communicating it,and portraying it as a model for outsiders to observe and adopt.

Cohen says that three processes are involved when developing moral panic:

  1. Exaggeration and distortion of who did or said what.
  2. Prediction of the dire consequences of failure to act upon whatever is being presented.
  3. Symbolization that signifies the threat.

Moral panic sends society into mass hysteria over a particular issue or event that occurs. The public believes that whatever is being reported is happening everywhere (in their neighborhood).

  1. Ex. black lives matter movement and police brutality

Moral panic plays into young people as irresponsible and without having consequence for their actions.

  1. Ex. rioters in Ferguson


Works cited:

Does news organizations support the continuation of moral panic?

D’Amonti Batton-Jackson

Moral Panic ?

fear-and-panicWhen the concept of “moral panic” comes about, a fear among a smaller population is reflected upon the larger society as an issue that will affect the population at large. Having such a large following and being viewed as credible, news organizations/corporations can be an agent in initiating or continuing a moral panic through coverage.

The Role of Television News in the Construction of School Violence as a “Moral Panic”

An early example of news organizations initiating a moral panic was shown in an article that focused on Television’s news coverage in creating school violence as a moral panic. “During the 1997-1999 school year, the American public was riveted by magnified coverage of highly unusual crime stories of school shootings that turned into what some news outlets described as an “all too familiar story“.”

  • “Rather than providing context, the media’s labeling of these shootings as “a trend” has tended to exacerbate people’s fears about the safety of their children and youth in schools. The result is that misdirected public policy is being generated to safeguard the schools, even though the real threat may lie elsewhere. To remedy the purported “crisis” of classroom violence, politicians have proposed solutions ranging from posting additional police officers in our schools, to eliminating any minimum age at which children may be tried as adults, to expanding the death penalty to juveniles.”



Key Elements/ stages in moral panic include:

  1. Defining the threat to society (moral, values, interest)
  2. Accessible construct that can be presented by media
  3. Abrupt public fear
  4. Response from public officials
  5. Causes social change


The Process of Creating News2014-09-15_2209

To understand moral panic within news organizations, it is essential to understand the process involved in the creation of it. Being highly profit driven, the realization that news organizations  have an interest in entertainment to achieve its goals. The “similarities between entertainment media and news media, which are expected to depict an accurate and objective view of reality, are unsettling considering the enormous impact of the latter on the social construction of reality.”

Finding similarities to entertainment, the images, and messages used in the news are similar. Falling in the middle of two models (market & manipulative)  that determine the content in which media is created, it can become difficult to reason with. On one hand, the market model states that “the newsworthiness of an event is determined by what is of interest to the public”. In this model, objectivity is assumed to be supreme and features factual information being reported. On the other hand, the manipulative model “newsworthiness is determined not by what is of interest to the public, but by what is of interest to the news agency owners.”

Creating a cycle of repetition, news organizations tend to confide in social institutions or credible officials to give reliable. “This easy influx of news allows the news agencies to utilize their financial resources elsewhere.” As a result of this, news often time resembles the social norm while seemingly supporting the institutions/organizations from which the information is pulled from. Maintaining the idea that crime news is profitable, it is “being prepackaged (manipulative) and popular (market), it helps the news organization in its routinization process.”

Works Cited:


Project Proposal

  • What is moral panic? (from propaganda perspective)
    • Moral panic offers valuable insight into why powerful social agents such as the mass media deliberately create public concern or fear of an individual group or thing.
  • Who benefits from public fear?-KE
  • Does news organizations support the continuation of moral panic? -DJ
  • As the social media population increase, has moral panic among social media sites become more impactful than being factual ? DJ
  • Historically how has moral panic transformed over time? (think about the shift from news being on tv to social media platforms) KE


Personal Note-Moral panic maintains the status quo or the dominant paradigm