Uses and gratification in social media

The uses and gratification theory, posits that people, use media based on what their needs are, and to satisfy those needs. Uses and gratification, effectively operates under the assumption that users, are free agents when it comes to choosing the media sources that they consume from. This theory wouldn’t apply in social system in which news is distributed under a dictatorship. The rise of Web.2 and social media then, is something of a proving ground for the theory. With very little restriction or regulation, the average person can satisfy almost any gratification they have.

To understand how people use social media for their own gratification it is important to understand how different platforms are used and designed. For example Facebook is used to gratify people’s need to socialize and make friends. This point is further emphasized by Facebook referring to other users you can interact with, with the informal title of ‘friend’. Compare this to other popular social networking sites like: ‘Twitter’ and ‘YouTube’. They use the much less informal  ‘follower’ and ‘subscriber’. An unrestricted platform with the uses and gratifications theory seems to lead to a diverse selection of platforms. This is most emphasized by each platforms most popular user. For ‘Youtube’ the most popular user is PewDiePie(Socialblade,2017). For ‘Twitter’ it is Katy Perry(Friend or Follow, 2017). Now both individuals are very different as far as their entertainment styles. One is a gamer the other a singer. Another thing to note is that they are both members of the other platform and yet are knowhere near as popular on that platform.

The freedom afforded by the internet isn’t necessarily always a positive thing. As numerous examples point out, the unrestricted nature of the platforms, leads certain individuals and groups to take advantage. A platform where this appears a fair amount is twitter. One of the most recent and prominent victims of social medias lack of restraint was Leslie Jones(Oluo,2016), who appeared to be getting the abuse that she was getting because she was in a film. Astonishingly the level of pettiness in that example isn’t an isolated incident (Duggan, 2014). The reason for the vile and mean spirited nature that individuals take on when they go online isn’t completely clear. However, it would appear that the answer is relatively simple. People are abusive online simply because they can be, because the opportunity is their for them to do it.

In conclusion, the internet and social media, seems to confirm the uses and gratification theory. The uses and gratification theory, clearly leads to a variety of diversity between the different social media platforms, which can be good, for discussion and variance. Also the unrestricted access that people have online and the lack of any boundarys, has led to something of a toxic environment when it comes to discussing certain topics on platforms.


Duggan, Maeve. (2014). Online Harrasment. Pew research centre. (Online) Can be accessed online at: [Assessed on the 8/3/2017]

Friend or Follow. (2017). Twitter: Most Followers. Friend or Follow. (Online).Can be Accesed online at: [Assessed on the 8/3/2017]

Oluo, Ijeoma. (2016). Leslie Jone’s Twitter Abuse is a Deliberate Campaign of Hate.(Online) Can be accessed online at: [Assessed on the 8/3/2017]

Socialblade.(2017).Top hundred youtubers by subscribed. Socialblade. (Online).Can be accessed online at:  [Assessed on the 8/3/2017]


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