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The government-issued, and BuzzFeed hosted, propaganda has received more than 3,000 likes on Facebook, more than 400 shares on Twitter, and has been viewed more than 23,000 times. If the content had just been posted to the embassy's own website instead, the results would have been nowhere near as dramatic.
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Recent years have seen critical books and media commentary on our alienating fascinatiion with texting, social media, and mediated socializing in general. University of Toronto sociologist Barry Wellman calls this "the community question," and conducted empirical research that demonstrated how people indeed can find "sociability, social support, and social capital" in online social networks as well as geographic neighborhoods. With so much armchair psychologizing tut-tutting our social media habits these days, empirical evidence is a welcome addition to this important dialogue about sociality and technology. But neither Philcat nor I need experimental evidence to prove that the beating heart of community can thrive among people connected by keyboards and screens as well as those conducted over back fences and neighborhood encounters.