Social Media (a term)

This is a new term in English driven by technological development. It is used to describe and categorized various websites or other platform of technology where people able to interact each other. It is a search on, the earliest use of term social media appears on ‘Telnet explored,’ Online, dated January 1st, 1994. Written by Greg R. Notess, it says:

What attracted librarians to the Internet? For some cybernauts, USENET, IRC, and the other social media of the net are the hooks. For others, the millions of software programs and text files easily accessible with anonymous FTP are the important part. But I suspect that for information junkies, the ability to connect to catalogs and databases around the globe with the simple telnet command is what first attracted many.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, social media is websites and applications used for social networking. This term, nowadays, has been widespread on the Net and become most visited website. It has significant potential to be more powerful and, of course, it is not just a fad phenomenon. Following citation written by Peter Simpson, ‘China’s Social Media Used to Find Missing Children,’ VOA News, dated February 14th, 2011, it looks the power of social media has been huge.

In China, social media such as microblogs and instant messaging services are tightly controlled, to prevent the spread of information the government does not like. But some Chinese are learning to use social media to reunite families.

In an emotional scene, Peng Gaofeng is reunited with his son, who was abducted three years ago, when he was just three. Child abduction is a big problem in china.

…Peng started a blog and bombarded China’s version of Twitter-Weibo-with postings of his son’s photo in the hope that someone, somewhere, would recognize him. And it worked.

On the case of use, at this news the term used a few times, more than above citation. It indicates this term is needed. Of course, the term also use on British English such as in news released by BBC, dated June 15th, 2011, ‘Ministry of Defence highlights social media dangers’, the term ‘social media’ appears a few times. Here it is the citation:

“Gen Lorimer added: ‘We do not want to scare service personnel, families and veterans and we certainly do not want them to stop using social media.”

“We are not here to gag people because we acknowledge the ubiquity and significant benefits that social media offers to people and the MoD.”

According to, a phrase could be changed overnight into a compound whenever people lose track of the meanings of its parts. On technological term, i.e, ‘hard drive’, ‘floppy disk’, and ‘screensaver’ have become compounds in user lifetime. That statement emphasizes that social media also possible to be changed from phrase to compound. However, it is not easy to distinguish, moreover, to claim, whether ‘social media’ is either phrase or compound.

In English, phrase refers to any group of words acting as a single part of speech and not containing both a subject and a verb. Recognizing social media as a phrase, it is dependable based on above requirements. With NN (Noun+Noun) the structure, based on Carstairs (2002: 62), it is a noun. On the other hand, it will be a compound. It is formed by compounding between two words, linked each other.


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