Discussion: Social Media and Persuasion

Social Media Data Mining
Joe receives an e-mail for a friend request from his childhood friend, Sara, on a social network site. Joe accepts her request and uses the chat function to send an instant message to her. Joe and Sara have a long conversation and catch up on the past 20 years. Sara notices on Joe’s profile page that he is a conservative, went to a university near their hometown, and has a Chihuahua. Joe sees on Sara’s profile page that she is a liberal, went to art school, and is a reality television fanatic. Seeing Sara’s interest sparks his memory of a time at work when his co-workers talked about a show that involves a dog whisperer. He begins to watch the show and is instantly hooked. He becomes a follower on the dog whisper’s microblog, buys his dog training videos, and clicks the “Like” button on his social network page. Knowing Sara’s interest for reality television, Joe recommends the show about the dog whisperer to her.
As the year progresses, both Joe and Sara check each other’s social network feeds from time to time and see photos and videos of each other doing different things. Joe posts a video of his Chihuahua hopping around the coffee table, a trick he learned from the dog whisperer. Sara posts photos of paintings she painted of her favorite reality television stars. Later in the year, Joe begins to receive Luxury Chihuahua sweater catalogs in the mail. Sara begins to see Reality Television Fan Club ads on the side of her frequently visited websites. How do companies know about Joe’s passion for Chihuahua fashion and Sara’s addiction to reality television? What other information could companies and other interests groups gain from Joe and Sara’s social network pages?
Businesses and other interest groups realize that social media can be used for more than initiating communication among long-lost friends; it can also be used to gather data about an individual’s personal and professional interests. Through a process known as data mining, collected data from social media and other networks can be further analyzed to find similarities or patterns and categorized into useful information to market certain products, services, and even political candidates.  
For this week’s Discussion, you evaluate the use of social media data mining to persuade a particular audience. You also evaluate whether data mining is an ethical persuasion strategy.
A 3 paragraph evaluation of the use of social media data mining to persuade audiences. Explain whether you agree or disagree with the use of information from social media networks to persuade a particular audience. Then, explain whether you believe data mining is an ethical persuasion strategy. Cite a specific example from this week’s Learning Resources or outside resources to support your evaluation.

References must come from: Larson, C. U. (2013). Persuasion: Reception and responsibility (13th ed.). Boston, MA: Wadsworth. Chapter 13, “Modern Media and Persuasion” (pp. 365–406)
Chapter 13 explains the role of persuasion in modern media. It considers several views of how the Internet has recently changed persuasion theory and practice

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