When a whistleblower from Facebook (now Meta), leaked the company’s research showing that Instagram was psychologically harmful to girls, newspapers and public commentary framed this as a revelation, but the story felt familiar.1 It seemed another example of a media panic, which many scholars explain have long been intertwined with moral panics.2 New media and media technologies—from the novel to social media—have traditionally generated familiar but slightly transformed and occasionally distinctive concerns about media effects. Such concerns typically revolve around age, gender, and race. But media is also essential to spreading moral and media panics. Reactions in the aftermath of the leaked Facebook documents are a perfect example of both—people expressed concerns about media’s impact and news media’s narrow focus on the documents’ more sensationally negative content exacerbated these concerns. Analysis of the so-called Facebook files focused on the revelations of harms of social media instead of other research in the leaked documents about possible benefits through community building.

The most publicized research in popular press accounts suggested that the body comparison springing from Instagram use promoted eating disorders and depression.3 These findings are certainly cause for concern, but the studies about body comparison associated with social media use do not seem radically dissimilar than older research about the effects of fashion and fitness magazines.4 People have also been reporting on the harms of the internet—for girls in particular—for a long time, be it bullying and harassment or pro-Ana groups. Even Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, has said that “the web is not working for women and girls” and worries about it becoming a “digital dystopia.”5

Scholars have debated what is cognitively different about social media addiction versus other kinds of media “addictions.” The “unpredictable rewards” of “likes” and affirmation online are qualitatively different from those offered by many other forms of media and may keep people more tethered to social media than other consumption habits.6 Nevertheless, the Facebook files invite us to revisit the frequently asked question of what is “new” about new media.7

As someone who has done a great deal to demonstrate the continuities and resonances between new and old media, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun argues that there is an “important discontinuity” with new media that challenges genealogies some scholars construct that go back to the printing press.8 Even as we take seriously Chun’s warning about the consequences of failing to recognize the difference media makes, identifying the echoes of earlier moments gives us a thicker perspective. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter (X), and Instagram are not the first examples of communities and identities organized around mediated texts and technologies. Young women connected over novel reading and the fantasies in their pages were considered “infectious” and dangerous, from early novel reading to the rise of Harlequin and historical romance novels in the late twentieth century.9 Psychiatrist Frederic Wertham fretted over the raced and gendered harms of comic books, even as the content and the communities that can form around comics often model new just worlds and offer a sense of belonging to the socially marginalized.10 The fan cultures from comics and other “geek cultures” like gaming and science fiction have notoriously been marked by misogyny, racism, and homophobia, even as the same groups marginalized by white supremacy and toxic masculinity have built their own affirming and pleasurable communities.11

But as Chun argues, such histories must be attentive to the differences that medium makes.12 While acknowledging that there are differences, experiential and discursive echoes might help us think through how we work and live through contemporary media panics. One primary focus of social media panic is the crisis of misinformation and polarization that threatens democracy. Another strand, which was the popular media and political focus of the Facebook leaks, surrounds girls’ and women’s cultures. Much of the literature around harm comes from psychologists, education scholars, sociologists, and some communication scholars, as opposed to media historians, and one of the reasons may be not only methodological but also a resistance to causality claims around media. On the one hand, we have many reasons to be concerned about how social media operates in the world. On the other, as many scholars have noted, it has been a site for productive political mobilization and, in some cases, community building for some populations. What if we took seriously the need for a long view that looks at other media in thinking about how to address social media as a “problem”? What might previous examples of people being social through media teach us about the present?

Contributors to this special issue take a long view. Social media can be a site in which girls and women are treated as being particularly vulnerable to content and a place where corporations can often denigrate their consumers, in ways that may echo the classical archival evidence about girl fans and the Hollywood studio system. Capitalism is both the foundation for mass media and seen as disrupting the creative and political possibilities of it, but creators who have been cut out of corporate modes of production can find each other and audiences in social media as they have in alternative markets like underground comics. The internet can be a site of horrible danger and harassment for women while they also may return to these spaces, finding pleasure in proximity to—and sometimes in relationship to—the danger, and it was that way long before Twitter (X), Facebook, and Instagram. Fans who call out racism, misogyny, and homophobia on social media are met with rage because they are seen as disrupting not only pleasure but also the offenders’ views of their community, a politics of in-group regulation that harkens back to practices of fan exclusion that precede contemporary social media forms. Social media can feel different and be different, even as we know that there are other sites where we see people negotiating relationships through media. Nonetheless, the struggle over certain binary oppositions—consumer and producer, pleasure and danger, victim and agent, and perhaps most of all, utopia and dystopia, have long histories that could be cited more often in public conversations about social media in the present.

We may still be in what Dana R. Fisher and Larry Michael Wright describe as a cultural lag around the dystopian and utopian binary produced around the possibilities of the internet.13 Even as there are many conversations about social media creating a dystopian hellscape—particularly in relation to misinformation—many scholars have celebrated the utopian, world-building possibilities of social media. Such conversations are particularly common in discussing Black and queer communities, populations who have not only had less access to producing traditional media but have been victims of distortion and erasure. Even the most prominent discussions of social media dysfunction that focus on the dangers of misinformation are also organized around interrogating why identity makes particular populations more likely to cohere around media communities—finding them liberating or destructive.

The utopian in media signifies not only the traditional meaning of the ideal but also adds a twist to the “no place,” since inhabiting media is often occupying a space that is no material place that people can live. Yet the act of consuming media can often be experienced as spatial—media is discussed variously as if it is transporting to fictional or virtual worlds or as if it augments and multiplies the material spaces in which it is consumed. In contrast, the dystopian is used both as a descriptor of the material world we inhabit and the world people fear will be enacted. But both have in common how central identity is to people’s understanding of either world—there is no way of imagining a topos without people defining what kinds of people they wish to be there, which people will be excluded, which people will have power, and which people will be hurt by it. Identity is thus essential to the construction of what makes a space dystopian or utopian.

This special issue looks at a longer history of media we can term “social,” and how other media, often removed from conversations about social media, have negotiated the same issues around identity, idealization, and demonization. There is still a tendency to treat social media in relation to binaries, and such binaries are related to the utopian/dystopian binary that has haunted discussions of the internet since its early days. We see resonances between such binaries in other mass media discussions, with scholars and laypeople alike having a tendency to overcelebrate media and see it as revolutionary or worthy of complete condemnation in relation to the injuries it causes. Social media is an example of a media identitopia—the space of consumption and association that offers the promise of utopian community while dystopian harms threaten or overtake the pleasurable political possibilities of connections made between people through media. The popular always holds the ideal and suffering in the same place because of identity—people’s ideal worlds are shaped by ideas of belonging and exclusion. Political economy is also key to media identitopias because it naturalizes exclusions in the name of marketability, resource scarcity, and property. In this issue we look at histories of that tension, exploring the space between that shapes the quotidian negotiations that transpire in the identitopias we inhabit.

When we place identity at the center of discussions of the possibilities and problems of (social) media, there may be more overlaps between disciplines than we often acknowledge. Media historians and many other media scholars can see causality claims as an anathema, but nonetheless constantly talk about what media does. Media scholars believe that media and representation matters—this justifies the existence of the field. That this belief is a frequent presence in scholarship in the field suggests that there is a relationship between “media effects” research and other media scholars’ engagement with the fact that media does things and people also do things with media. What media does is particularly a concern with media scholars who work with representations of race, gender, and sexuality. Scholars such as Racquel Gates, Mireille Miller-Young, Celine Shimizu, Cáel Keegan, and many others have pushed audiences to move away from simplistic readings of “negative” representations or “bad” media objects.14 Even when the binaries of positive and negative are not directly being engaged or challenged, the most productive media scholarship often helps us see how media texts and technologies (as well as critiques of media) can work by offering more expansive imaginings of how to understand and relate to the world.

For example, in her work on “negative” representation in derided media forms like reality television, Racquel Gates critiques the assumption that it is positive representation, rather than other political or social changes that can protect Black people from harms. The assumption of critics who call for positive images would seem to be that their circulation facilitates a more positive view of actual Black people, seemingly by enabling integration into white cultural norms or that some kind of “authentic” Black representation helps people feel “seen.” In contrast, Gates calls for an analysis and embrace of the multidimensionality of negative images that she argues “open up possibilities for nonnormative feelings, experiences, and allegiances” that “are simply not possible in the image-policed spaces of positive texts.”15

Even when rejecting the restrictions of positive and negative images, work that scholars like Gates produce have their own investments in exploring what media can do. Rather than assuming that representations can function positively or have positive effects by communicating accurate or ideal representations of an identity group, the positive or valuable work that representation can do instead arises from the possibilities that they open up to rethink norms or challenge prescriptions of respectability politics. Yet, whether they reproduce images already deemed positive or offer challenges, media representations still are attributed with doing work, even as their potential benefits or harms are understood differently.16

Media studies has approached the relationship between media and identity in many other ways aside from debating the relative value of positive and negative images. Critiques of postfeminism have pointed out that popular media takes up feminist politics and representations in ways that narrow the bounds of femininity that appear on screen and that deemphasize collective and political consciousness in favor of presenting individualistic and consumer-oriented solutions.17 Without reducing the multiple ways that these critiques function, one of the implications of this approach is to see media as working ideologically to limit political awareness. We could potentially say that the “effect” is how these texts shape common sense about feminism and femininity and ultimately quell alternatives.

Recently, queer studies approaches have become a generative source for theorizing the relationship between players and video games. Like social media, the study of video games has been a space in which more straightforward causal effects claims have tended to proliferate along with panics about video games and violence—probably most famously we see this in the discourses around video games in the Grand Theft Auto franchise as “murder simulators.”18 Given the rampant heteronormativity and homophobia that pervades game cultures and texts, one strategy might be to call for more positive and diverse representations of LGBTQ+ characters and relationships. Yet, many queer video game scholars, like Bo Ruberg, have taken an approach that explores “the longing to imagine alternative ways of being and to make space within structures of power for resistance through play.”19 In other words, video games provide the structures that make play and experimentation with different feelings and modes of relationality possible.

Changing representations are not the only avenues through which media scholars contend with the way that media does social and cultural work, and queer game studies is only one instance that poses an alternative. Media studies also considers technologies of transmission and circulation—media matter as tools to manage and organize communities and publics. Some scholars of Black radio and television, for example, have explored how the infrastructures of broadcast media, not only programming but also Black-owned stations and creative networks, were envisioned and mobilized as tools to support activist pursuits in the 1960s and 1970s. In these instances, media can work to disseminate and shape social and political movements.20

Building new and transformative media infrastructures is part of the utopian media ecology people like to imagine is possible. Media scholarship offers critiques of existing media texts and technologies in hopes of helping bring about more utopian or better media, or in pursuit of changing the relationship that consumers have to media, even if there is no consensus on the ideals toward which to strive. In exploring how media helps people imagine other ways of being in the world, some of this work ventures into exploring a utopian imaginary—such as the community shaped by fan culture, the counterpublics of Black Twitter, and the queer utopias built in social media spaces that cannot exist elsewhere.21

At the same time, many scholars do produce nuanced arguments about problematic discourses that reinforce ideology. For example, Sarah Projanksy argues that “rape narratives help organize, understand, and arguably produce the social world” and “help inscribe a way of looking, the conditions of watching, and the attitudes and structures of feeling one might have about rape, women, and people of color.”22 Gaming scholar Adrienne Shaw has produced careful accounts of identification and representation in games that challenge simplistic logics about stereotypes, identification, and effects, but also points to how “misogyny, racism, and homophobia,” while not “invented by the internet” is “enabled by technology and the cultural norms of Internet communication in which this behavior is supported, defended, and even valued.”23 And no one can dispute the massive, harmful harassment women who have criticized representation in games have received that affect their ability to do their work and live their lives. Many scholars have criticized texts such as The Birth of a Nation (D. W. Griffith, 1915), The Help (Tate Taylor, 2011), Green Book (Peter Farrelly, 2018), Mississippi Burning (Alan Parker, 1988), and The Blind Side (John Lee Hancock, 2009) for representing narratives that reinforce racist cultural scripts about race relations. Birth of a Nation was, as historians have documented, a Klan recruitment tool. And from Disney to romance novels, there are many publications making a case for the complex pleasures to be had in “women’s texts” and stories about romantic love, but there might be more publications in media studies journals that condemn the reinforcement of patriarchal sexual and romantic scripts.

Arguably, racist, sexist, and homophobic representations simply make these works bad art. But because media scholars are often concerned with how ideology works, simplifying interpretations to merely “bad” and “good” often won’t do. If we accept that media scholarship that is critical of representations of race, gender, and sexuality has a relationship to causality without making causal claims, we might then ask if the approaches of media historians and cultural studies scholars can be applied to help us nuance the types of “effects” language that often circulates to discuss social media.

Part of what media history teaches us is to be careful about totalizing narratives of harm or pleasure. Media framing of Meta’s leaked research was not so careful. For example, one of the “statistics” often quoted in coverage of the leaks is that Instagram makes body image issues worse for one in three teen girls. On the face of it, this appears to be a simple claim for cause and effect—Instagram directly harms a significant number of teen girls by making them feel worse about their bodies as a result of using the platform. In response to the leaks and their public framing in venues like the Wall Street Journal (and ahead of congressional hearings), Facebook provided its own analysis of this data to refute these interpretations—especially taking issue with the causality claims. In heavily annotated versions of the same leaked documents, Meta points out that the inferences made in these presentations are based on self-reporting from teen girls who expressed their perceptions that Instagram made them feel worse.24

But the results found were more mixed than the popular reporting suggested. This research also included many teen girls who reported that Instagram made them feel better and also some who provided their feedback on how the platform could be modified to blunt harms. Girls engage in social comparison when using Instagram, and often, but not always, this leads to reporting of harms like envy, jealousy, and dysmorphia while at other times it leads to the so-called positive effects of “feeling inspired and motivated.” One of the questions that was drawn from this research was “what flips the switch” between positive and negative effects of social comparison.25 In this language of flipping the switch, teen girls are figured as circuits that can be switched from positive to negative positions—away from bad feelings and dysmorphia and toward inspiration and motivation. The solution Meta poses in their own leaked documents is that images on Instagram must be modified to make them appear more accessible and attainable to girls who would presumably be inspired and motivated by social comparison rather than rendered depressed or immobilized by these images.26 Despite their own refutations of cause and effect relationships in other parts of their research, Meta seems to fall back on simple models for understanding pleasures and harms when imagining solutions to their findings.

Not only in the mixed results that Meta discovered, but also in existing scholarly accounts of media and media users, we know that it is not so simple to draw direct claims that social media causes harms. How, then, might our interpretation of social media’s relationship to girls’ culture and well-being change if we put these understandings of causality in conversation with the many ways of understanding the complexity of social relationships through media? Previous media studies approaches provide the resources to contest some of the definitions of what types of media cause harm and what harms might consist of beyond effects on individual self-esteem or mental health. Applying the insights of existing media scholarship highlights the potential that can be found in seemingly negative representation—representations associated with negativity are not necessarily harmful but can also be sources for nonnormative imaginings. This might contrast with Meta’s proposed solutions in which Instagram would be modified to offer girls more accessible or attainable images of beauty and consumer lifestyles in the form of what they label more “relatable” influencers and the prioritization of body positive content. Here too, the lessons of feminist media studies might be applied to critique the solutions to social media harms that are proposed by companies like Meta. Changes to social media that embrace social comparison to motivate or inspire still maintain a focus on individual well-being at the expense of collective awareness and fail to engage with the possibility that negative images and feelings can be used to challenge norms and build communities.

Putting this information in dialogue with research on media’s role in facilitating counterpublics and activism, we can see how the circulation of critiques and reports of harms from Instagram’s users might in itself function as a basis on which to imagine more utopian modes of social media use and to mobilize teen girls with respect to social media. The research that was circulated to damn social media consisted of the spontaneous self-reporting of harm of teen girl users. Similarly, even as the Wall Street Journal reported on the Facebook leaks, they included two teen girls who had taken it on themselves to survey other teens about social media harms for a national science competition.27 This supports what we already know, that teen girls are savvy users of social media who are not oblivious to the potential harms—even if this doesn’t mean that they are not also harmed.

We don’t wish to dismiss the clear evidence of the dangers of social media by simply pointing to examples of self-conscious or active social media use. Misinformation, information bubbles, and harassment have produced deep harms. As does too much time online. Both research and anecdotal narratives demonstrates that social media has caused harms. However, we wish to point to continuities between social media and what came before in order to build on the rich understanding of media that has already been established while still being open to the differences between other media and social media that the study of social media requires. There is something different about social media, but how different? What might refusing social media’s total uniqueness help us rethink—at least in relation to questions about media’s primal place in everyday life?

We begin with a conversation with Wendy Chun because no one has done more to frame the history of the internet in relation to identity than she has. Chun has criticized the binary of “utopianism and dystopianism” in “early net studies” and is one of the scholars who pushed for people to come up with a new vocabulary to make sense of these technologies.28 In the conversation, Chun highlights the ahistorical nature of present framings of media, the pleasures that can be generated or combated on media networks, and the importance of working across disciplines. Her scholarship always leaves us with a sense that other orientations to media and media history are possible.

And of course, the major way we wish to reframe the conversation around social media is to see some kinds of media history as examples of social media that may not have been included in this category before. In previous work, Diana Anselmo has discussed scrapbooks made by fans during World War I as an early example that parallels the online scrapbooking we see on Tumblr.29 She continues her work on early female fandom in her essay, “Fire in the Hole: Negative Feelings in Silent-Film Female Fandom,” which analyzes the letters of female filmgoers published in early twentieth-century fan magazines as a site of social media engagement and fan interaction. Specifically, Anselmo focuses on the negative feelings and “visceral expressions of displeasure, disdain, and dissent” that can be found in these letters as young women used their discussions of film and celebrity to work through gendered social experiences and disciplining of female adolescence through their responses to films and stars. Anselmo suggests that these grievances create a “sociality of unhappiness” and are “scaffolded around the emergence of Hollywood cinema.” Fan letter sections create media identitopias—based on the identity of young, white, middle-class women but taking place not in the physical copresence of the theater, but rather through the spaces of magazine pages. In her discussion of fan letters, Anselmo shows how interactivity was central to early fan culture and not unidirectional, a mode of fan community building that would only grow over time into the contemporary juggernaut that fan culture is today. Although they are structured quite differently than social media sites, Anselmo’s analysis points us to surprising resonances between letters sections and critiques of contemporary social media. The combative nature of fan interactions in letter writing was helped along by the curation not of algorithms but of editors who fanned the flames by selecting letters from those writers who performed “feeling the most.” This helped create spaces in which negative feelings prospered.

Drawing from Sara Ahmed, Anselmo explores how early film fandom was often a repository of the negative feelings of female fans. Similarly, Rukmini Pande explores how fans who criticize racist, misogynist, or homophobic representations are examples of Ahmed’s “feminist killjoys.” Pande is one of the scholars who has challenged the ways in which fans and many academics have framed fandom as a utopian project. She draws particular attention to the ways in which racism can organize the logic of fan pleasure. In her essay, “‘Get out of here you anti’: Historizing the Operation of Structural Racism in Media Fandom,” Pande provides a history of the discursive construction of the figure of the antifan or “anti,” to show how fan discourses often rely on the equation of antiracist critique as antifandom in order to attempt to maintain a narrative of fandom spaces as utopian. Only by ignoring a long history of contestations of racism and white supremacy in fandom spaces can the anti be framed as a new disruption to an existing utopian fandom. Pande shows how framing of utopia as well as pleasures and harms are instrumentalized by fans in order to police critiques of fan spaces. Their struggles have a relationship to the struggles women in particular have experienced online when criticizing representations in “geek culture.” While this is a phenomenon of the present, fan culture has a long history of exclusions shaped by the homophily imagined in fan communities that nonetheless understood themselves as inclusive.

Another example of alternative, progressive communities that were nonetheless hampered by exclusions was the alternative comics community. In his essay “Letters, Queer and Women’s Comix, and Making Community,” Nicholas Sammond builds on existing scholarship about comics and queer community by focusing on networks of artists and distribution of comics. There were conflicts that arose in the production and distribution of comics that certainly placed pressure on how the community saw itself. But community was also built in the shared enterprise of developing an infrastructure to support the making of and circulation of comics. One of the aspects of social media that must be understood as riding the fine line between harms and pleasures is commerce—as much as we discuss the problems of companies like Meta and their monopolies, the internet and social media have created opportunities for people to circumvent traditional avenues of distribution and promoted different voices. Creating conditions for creators who would not previously have reached an audience must be part of the story—for better and worse—of the harms and possibilities of online spaces. Sammond’s essay provides a model for how to analyze the entanglements of commerce and community that can be instructive for making sense of the challenges of contemporary social media economies.

Whereas Sammond’s analysis foregrounds the economic infrastructure required to make community possible for comics artists, Michele White draws our attention to the structures of governance that enable online communities to function and the contested deliberations that bring these governing structures into being. White revisits a case study from the social internet of the 1990s in her essay, “LambdaMOO as Identitopia: Digital Media Pleasure and Danger.” She discusses LambdaMOO and the rapes and reporting on these events that scholars, historians, and MOO participants have described as shaping the community governance of this online space. After these rapes occurred in this virtual community and then were publicized by Julian Dibbel’s reporting on these events for the Village Voice, new users flocked to the site. White asks what it means for journalists, scholars, or MOO participants to frame these rapes as the instigators of more utopian forms of governing in online communities, or at least of deliberations on this governance, while also acknowledging how they drew the curiosity and fascination of new users despite the harms that they caused. Through close reading of Dibbel’s reporting as well as debates and ballot measures put forward by MOO participants, White shows how participants in these conversations avoided discussion of the way that pleasures and harms of the MOO affected some bodies and identities more than others. Furthermore, White shows how these deliberations offer a way to reconsider the “differences and similarities among material realities and representations,” previously adjudicated by sex debates and helps demonstrate how the real and virtual intermingle both in the MOO and in the debates about pleasures and harms within social media spaces.

We end the issue with a round table led by Raven Maragh-Lloyd who coordinated a discussion with Kishonna L. Gray and Brooklyne Gipson that focuses on Black digital cultures. Maragh-Lloyd opens the roundtable with her argument that conceptions of pleasures and dangers of media, including social media, can be reframed by thinking historically about how people have used different media in creative and unexpected ways. In her own work on Black publics, she shows how a focus on what she calls “evergreen content,” and “evergreen networks” can help resist the temptation to mistakenly attribute too much power to any single media platform by signaling “the potentials of investigating digital discourse that is not beholden to a particular moment or media format.” The roundtable proceeds to offer an expansive discussion of the role of play and storytelling in navigating the pleasures and dangers of Black digital cultures.

The participants in the roundtable lean more toward seeing the utopian possibilities of social media, which is a characteristic of not only many media scholars of color looking at social media but a longer tradition of cultural studies approaches that see many examples of resistance in in relation to corporate-produced media.30 The work that explores how social media has been a positive force in people’s lives as a means of finding community, identity formation, and building social movements follows the work of film and television historians, literary scholars, and performance theorists who have explored how creators and audiences made a way out of no way, deployed oppositional gazes, and were far from passive consumers of media content.

By centering the role that identity plays in the creation and maintenance of communities organized around media, we better understand the entanglement of pleasure and danger constitutive of these associations. This special issue rejects approaches that are purely celebratory or completely censorious of (social) media, revealing instead the quotidian negotiations of belonging and exclusion that shape media identitopias that we inhabit.

1.

Dell Cameron et al., “Read the Facebook Papers for Yourself,” Gizmodo, updated June 15, 2023, https://gizmodo.com/facebook-papers-how-to-read-1848702919.

2.

See Chris Ingraham and Joshua Reeves, “New Media, New Panics,” Critical Studies in Media Communication 33, no. 5 (2016): 455–67, in which they trace this history, looking at Marshall McLuhan, Stanley Cohen, and Stuart Hall.

3.

See for example, Georgia Wells, Jeff Horwitz, and Deepa Seetharaman, “Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls, Company Documents Show,” Wall Street Journal, September 14, 2021, sec. Technology, www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-knows-instagram-is-toxic-for-teen-girls-company-documents-show-11631620739; Damien Gayle, “Facebook Aware of Instagram’s Harmful Effect on Teenage Girls, Leak Reveals,” The Guardian, September 14, 2021, sec. Technology, www.theguardian.com/technology/2021/sep/14/facebook-aware-instagram-harmful-effect-teenage-girls-leak-reveals; “What Instagram Is Actually Doing to Your Mental Health,” Teen Vogue, October 25, 2021, www.teenvogue.com/story/facebook-instagram-teen-mental-health; Jonathan Haidt, “The Dangerous Experiment on Teen Girls,” The Atlantic (blog), November 21, 2021, www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/11/facebooks-dangerous-experiment-teen-girls/620767/.

4.

Jasmine Fardouly, Rebecca T. Pinkus, and Lenny R. Vartanian, “The Impact of Appearance Comparisons Made through Social Media, Traditional Media, and in Person in Women’s Everyday Lives,” Body Image 20 (2017): 31–39. Some literature looks at the difference between traditional media and new media in comparison, and the difference between downward, upward, and lateral comparison. Anne M. Morris and Debra K. Katzman, “The Impact of the Media on Eating Disorders in Children and Adolescents,” Paediatrics & Child Health 8, no. 5 (2003): 287–89; Wendy Spettigue and Katherine A. Henderson, “Eating Disorders and the Role of the Media,” Canadian Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Review 13, no. 1 (2004): 16; Kristen Harrison and Joanne Cantor, “The Relationship between Media Consumption and Eating Disorders,” Journal of Communication 47, no. 1 (1997): 40–67.

5.

Ian Sample, “Internet ‘Is Not Working for Women and Girls’, Says Berners-Lee,” The Guardian, March 11, 2020, www.theguardian.com/global/2020/mar/12/internet-not-working-women-girls-tim-berners-lee.

6.

Robert LaRose, Junghyun Kim, and Wei Peng, “Social Networking: Addictive, Compulsive, Problematic, or Just Another Media Habit?,” in A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites, ed. Zizi Papacharissi (New York: Routledge, 2010), 67–89; Mark D. Griffiths, “Adolescent Social Networking: How Do Social Media Operators Facilitate Habitual Use?” Education and Health 36, no. 3 (2018): 66–69.

7.

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, “Introduction: Did Somebody Say New Media?” in New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader, ed. Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Thomas Keenan (New York: Routledge, 2006), 2.

8.

Chun, “Did Somebody Say New Media?” 3.

9.

Daniel Cavicchi, “Fandom before ‘Fan’: Shaping the History of Enthusiastic Audiences,” Reception: Texts, Readers, Audiences, History 6, no. 1 (2014): 52–72; Janice A. Radway, Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009).

10.

Qiana Whitted, EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2019); Ramzi Fawaz, “The New Mutants,” in The New Mutants (New York: New York University Press, 2016).

11.

Suzanne Scott, Fake Geek Girls (New York: New York University Press, 2019); Rukmini Pande, Squee from the Margins: Fandom and Race (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2018).

12.

Chun, “Did Somebody Say New Media?” 3.

13.

Dana R. Fisher and Larry Michael Wright, “On Utopias and Dystopias: Toward an Understanding of the Discourse Surrounding the Internet,” Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 6, no. 2 (2001).

14.

Racquel J. Gates, Double Negative: The Black Image and Popular Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018); Mireille Miller-Young, A Taste for Brown Sugar: Black Women in Pornography (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2014); Celine Parreñas Shimizu, The Hypersexuality of Race: Performing Asian/American Women on Screen and Scene (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007); Cáel M. Keegan, “On the Necessity of Bad Trans Objects,” Film Quarterly 75, no. 3 (2022): 26–37.

15.

Gates, Double Negative, 26.

16.

Gates, Double Negative, 19.

17.

See, for example, Rosalind Gill, “Postfeminist Media Culture: Elements of a Sensibility,” European Journal of Cultural Studies 10, no. 2 (May 2007): 147–66.

18.

Ben Lindbergh, “How ‘Grand Theft Auto III’ Became Ground Zero for a Moral Panic,” The Ringer, October 22, 2021, www.theringer.com/2021/10/22/22739871/grand-theft-auto-iii-controversy-revisited.

19.

Bo Ruberg, Video Games Have Always Been Queer (New York: New York University Press, 2019), 1.

20.

Devorah Heitner, Black Power TV (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013); Annie Laurie Sullivan, “WGPR-TV Detroit: Building Black Media Infrastructure in the Postrebellion City,” Velvet Light Trap 83, no. 1 (2019): 32–45.

21.

Andre Cavalcante, “Tumbling into Queer Utopias and Vortexes: Experiences of LGBTQ Social Media Users on Tumblr,” in LGBTQ Culture, ed. Bruce E. Drushel (New York: Routledge, 2020), 77–97.

22.

Sarah Projansky, Watching Rape: Film and Television in Postfeminist Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2001), 7.

23.

Adrienne Shaw, Gaming at the Edge: Sexuality and Gender at the Margins of Gamer Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015); and Adrienne Shaw, “The Internet Is Full of Jerks, Because the World Is Full of Jerks: What Feminist Theory Teaches Us about the Internet,” Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies 11, no. 3 (2014): 273–77.

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Steven Musil, “Facebook Releases Internal Research on Instagram’s Effects on Teens, Ahead of Testimony,” CNET, accessed October 2, 2023, www.cnet.com/tech/services-and-software/facebook-shares-internal-research-on-instagrams-effects-on-teens/.

25.

Author redacted, Social Comparison Exploratory Research Powerpoint, Slide 20, www.documentcloud.org/documents/23590378-tier0_teen_ir_0320-compressed.

26.

Social Comparison Exploratory Research, Slide 50.

27.

Wells, Horwitz, and Seetharaman, “Facebook Knows Instagram is Toxic.”

28.

Chun, “Did Somebody Say New Media?” 2.

29.

Diana W. Anselmo, “Bound by Paper: Girl Fans, Movie Scrapbooks, and Hollywood Reception during World War I,” Film History: An International Journal 31, no. 3 (2019): 141–72.

30.

Moya Bailey, “Misogynoir Transformed,” in Misogynoir Transformed (New York: New York University Press, 2021); Jillian Báez, “Voicing Citizenship: Undocumented Women and Social Media,” Chicana/Latina Studies (2016): 56–83; Catherine Knight Steele, “Digital Black Feminism,” in Digital Black Feminism (New York: New York University Press, 2021).