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Facebook and other social media have been hailed as delivering the promise of a new socially engaged education learning and educational experiences for undergraduate, self-directed and other sectors. A theoretical and historical analysis of these media in the light of earlier media transformations however puts this into question. Specifically, the analysis provided here questions whether social media platforms satisfy a crucial component of learning – fostering the capacity for debate and disagreement. Using mMedia theorist Raymond William's analytical frame that emphasisesis on advertising in his analysis of the content and form of the medium, television, allows us towe weigh the structural conditions of dominant social networking sites as constraints for learning, using his critical analytical frame(?). Williams’ critique focuses on the structural characteristics of sequence, rhythm and flow of television as a cultural form. Our critique proposes information design, architecture and above all algorithm as similar structural characteristics that apply to social networks as a different but related cultural form. We shed new light on media influencing non-commercial television content (as Williams's terms sequence, rhythm and flow account for) by proposing that the operation of commerce in non-commercial Web 2.0 content can be correspondingly accounted for by informational design, architecture and algorithm. Illustrating the ongoing salience of media theory for researchstudying on-line learning, the article updates Williams work while leveraging it in a critical discussion of the suitability of some social media for education.