Race and the Digital: Racial Formation and 21st Century Technologies


In order to get a holistic picture of Facebook and its relation to [bridging] the digital divide, I used statistical data and my own personal experiences and observations of others (particularly minoritized communities) with the platform. The particular data sets I used were: “The Demographics of Social Media Users-2012,” Pew Research Center, February 2013; Digital Differences,” the Pew Research Center, April 2012. "Facebook Users by Population" The Guardian, Nick Burcher 2010; and "Leading countries based on number of Facebook users as of May 2014 (in millions)" Statistica, 2014. All of these give me tangible numbers of who uses the internet, social media, and Facebook.

I come into this research with some standard assumptions based on my life, everyone that I know either has a Facebook account or has heard of Facebook. It is important to keep in mind that I come from a minoritized, low-income community but I am also an academic scholar whose resulting networks are wide and varied. While it is reasonable to believe that my UCLA colleagues easily fit into this niche, I can also apply this description to the young adults that I worked with while doing field research in Mexico who grew up on the streets of the Mexico City. Another disadvantaged community that I have worked with, and whom I can once more apply this description to, is the Day Laborer community. However, it is important that I back my own observations with studies by reputed sources, like The Pew Center, who have a systemic approach to data collection. The merger of these two sources, of my experiences and scholarly data sets, will allow me to confirm, not only the popularity of Facebook, but also its proliferation into the lives of the masses.  

Just as my own observations come with their biases and gaps, the validated data sets also have their own. For example, the Computer and Internet Use data set along with the Facebook Users by Population and Leading countries based on number of Facebook users as of May 2014 (in millions)— while they shed light into user demographics—does not account for internet usage that is not directly linked with having a physical computer. In another light, Demographics of Social Media, relied on its data collection through phone interviews only available in two languages, omitting those who did not speak certain languages or had access to a telephone. However, with the integration of my own observations and my own analysis, the gaps in data and in considerations should be reduced. 

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