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“WHAT’S HAPPENING” @TWITTER: A USES AND GRATIFICATIONS APPROACH

ABSTRACT The uses and gratifications approach places power in the hands of the audience and is a helpful perspective when trying to understand media usage, exposure, and effects. However, while the uses and gratifications approach has been applied regularly to traditional media, research explaining why people use new social media networks as well as the gratifications they obtain from them is scarce at best. This thesis provides a comprehensive overview of the uses and gratifications approach as well as the current literature about social media networks. An argument is built within the thesis to study Twitter as one social media network through the uses and gratifications theoretical lens. Research questions are provided and a survey of 216 college undergraduates was conducted. Results show that people use a variety of Twitter functions, that the gratifications sought from Twitter are not the gratifications obtained from Twitter, and that people are careful about the types of information they share on the social media network. Additionally, results suggest that Twitter users obtain more gratifications from the passive functions of Twitter rather the active functions in terms of relational maintenance and entertainment. Limitations of the study and suggestions for future directions are also provided.

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