The goal of many on social media is to 'go viral'. Many believe that it's just about having good content. Certainly, in the case of some content this is the case. But also it requires being in the right place at the right time, such as by creating content that feels the 'pulse' of the internet. This can be due to breaking news stories, trending topics, or something involving funny animals.
But do the social networks discourage 'going viral' ? Certainly they do not like mass messaging, Facebook has many limitations on using Facebook in a bulk fashion. Sites such as digg, reddit, and others - will even display messages such as 'whoa - you're going too fast!.'
Many of these features are built in Spam controls which protect the networks from rogue bots distributing malware and poor content. But it seems as if the social networks do not encourage users to go viral. And why should they? Most such as Facebook have advertising systems that would be worthless if it was easy for users to go viral.
It seems as if social networks are threatened, or at least discourage, power users that could tip the balance of the system. For example a power user with many followers could suggest to users to switch to another social network, or lobby their fans for the network to change their policies. Many of these cases are not public (as the social network can control what is posted and what is deleted).
In any case, it seems that there is still some grassroots use of social networks, and they have not been completely converted into mainstream media dogma. Take a look how a recent campaign saved 16,000 hens in England:
A campaign to save thousands of hens at a Polegate farm which were destined for slaughter has gone viral and the majority are being rehomed. Around 16,000 free range ex-commercial laying hens were to be disposed of on May 31. Susan Archer, who rescues hens, said she saw an advert in the Friday Ad on April 26, asking people if they wanted to rehome the hens at the price of £2 each. She visited the farm the next day, and took home 17 hens - but took a photograph of some of the birds, and appealed on her Facebook page for others to help. “There were 16,000 of these hens,” said Susan, who started rescuing hens last year, and now has 40 - and two cockerels. “I put the photo on Facebook, and shared it with friends and family. I posted it on lots of hens and chicken forums. That was the start of it.” The photo was then shared hundreds of times, and picked up by prominent online groups. “Kudos to them, they have stepped up to the mark,” said Susan.
These hens went 'viral' online and this has literally saved their neck.
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