If I were going to study Facebook with a digital rhetoric method, I would choose the classical rhetorical theory. I feel that the basic ethos, pathos, and logos apply to the platform as well as the users. I also believe that the five canons of classical rhetoric (invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery) are sufficient in explaining the user behavior and the platform’s operating system.
First, let’s explore the ethos, pathos, and logos of both the user and the interface. Facebook as a platform is using ethos or credibility to build trust with its users. If you trust that Facebook is a credible company that will not leak your browsing information, personal information, or credit card information, you will be more likely to spend time on Facebook. Pathos or emotion is also being used to promote Facebook. New stories are being shared of long-lost twins finding each other on Facebook, cute animal videos, heart-warming videos and stories also being shared by users. Logos or logic also comes into play when Facebook is designing its advertisement layouts. What makes the most logical sense and what will attract the highest number of clicks are questions that the designers are asking. Also logos goes hand-in-hand with ethos in the sense that users want to be able to trust the information they are getting from Facebook.
Facebook uses invention when you can see what topics are trending. People are talking about celebrities, politics, or world events and they begin to “trend.” Facebook can then take that information of what is popular and begin suggesting articles of a similar nature, taking them into a broader sphere of discussion.
Arrangement is also important to the user. The page must be arranged in a way that is easy to use and makes visible sense. Facebook will want to arrange advertisements in the way that maximizes their profits. Users will want to arrange their own information on their profile in a way that best suits them.
Style goes hand-in-hand with arrangement. Style is also something that the user has more control over in their individual profile. They can design their profile picture, cover photo, and the order in which their information and photo albums are displayed. Past social media platforms have had more customizable features, such as MySpace, however Facebook has had more success, possible because of a more uniform style.
Memory applies to Facebook’s interface in the form of “hot” memory and “cold” memory. The hot memory items will be able to be retrieved quickly, like your photos and recent posts. The cold memory items are placed in what is described as “cold storage.” This information is being stored on a server that is slightly more difficult to access, in part because it is not accessed very often. This information is typically the massive amount of information that has been stored over long periods of time. Also Facebook uses memory for the user by allowing them to save posts for later. Basically they are bookmarking them so they can go back and remember them later. They also have a feature that reminds you of what you were doing on this day in past years.
Finally, delivery is the way in which you are receiving the information. Whether you are accessing Facebook from your computer or your phone can affect the way in which you process the information. Facebook seems to try to achieve a more uniform style across different devices and also across different profiles, making the delivery more universal and always familiar.
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