Social Media and how it goes on to affects people. The advantages and the risks of social media are discussed. Furthermore, it goes on to talk about appropriate and inappropriate content. Use of social media in the professional world is also discussed.
Social Media is basically the modes of interaction among persons in which they produce, exchange, and share information in varied virtual communities and network. (Ahlqvist et al., 2008) This information can include written information, pictures, videos and audio notes as well. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) describe this form of technology as varies internet origin applications that were created on technological and ideological foundations that merely allow the exchange of content that the user himself created. Initially, social media was only prevalent on laptops or pcs but now this technology has move on to mobile phones. This therefore enables users to upload and share information instantaneously. The advent of social media presented the world with some opportunities along with risks as well. A major setback that has been seen by social media is the amount of time people spend on social media websites.
There are various different channels that fall under social media. The first and most common social media website, face book, falls under social networks. The different social media channels are basically internet forums, social networks, blogs, social blogs, podcasts, and rating websites. Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) have divided the entire social media category into six different sorts of social media. The first one is basically collaborative projects which includes Wikipedia. Another division is into content communities like Daily Motion and YouTube, Micro blogs and blogs like Twitter, social networking websites like Face book. There are also present virtual worlds like Second Life that is basically a virtual social world and World of War craft that is basically a virtual gaming world. (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010)
Before we get into the details of social media, some statistics need to be presented that show how fast this phenomenon has spread throughout the world. Teen and adult use of social networking website has increased to quite an extent. In 2006, survey reported that only 55% of the teens were into social networking websites, in just four years, the number has increased to 73%. (Lenhart, 2010) 81% of the adults currently are wireless internet users and are therefore connected to these social media channels either through their laptops or through their phones. (Lenhart et.al, 2010) It should be noted that compared to the past years, internet usage has been allowed at a younger age now. Currently, it is seen that about 58% of 12-year-olds own a cell phone. As for going online, 93% of the teens between ages twelve to seventeen go online. (Lenhart et.al, 2010) Internet users spend a lot of time on these websites. Nielsen (2012) states that in July 2011, 88 billion minutes were spent on social media through PC or cell phones. This number increased to 121 billion minutes by the next year. (Nielsen, 2012)
Advantages of Digital Presence
According to Short, Williams & Christie (1976), the social presence theory basically indicates that media can be defined as the visual, acoustic and physical contact hat can be attained by two partners who are communicating. This goes on to present a major benefit that social media has presented to us. This basically goes on to show that it allows open communication. This open communication is quite beneficial when it comes spreading of ideas or thoughts to a large group of people. This open communication allows people to feel more in touch and close with each other. Due to social networks like face book being present on most of the cell phones, people opt to upload pictures instantaneously. This then gives their friends and family an update about them. It allows them to be more linked to them and know more about their life. The online chats, video, picture and audio exchange thus provides people to be updated about their loved ones and all that they are doing.
Daft & Langel (1986) talked about the Media richness theory in which they state that the major purpose of any communication is to remove ambiguity and provide information with certainty. Some media are quite fast and quite reliable than the others thus they differ in richness. Collaborative projects like Wikipedia allow users to put in content and thus it allows a democratic input process. Users can thus add or remove information and thus give a piece that is produced by a joint effort. It is true that Wikipedia is not the most reliable source but the major idea is that a joint venture with the contribution of many people leads to a better result as compared to the input of only one actor. (Fama, 1970)
Therefore a major advantage of social media is that it allows different sorts of opinions and information to be presented online. Social media is a good place to test out your own opinion or gather opinions of the majority instantaneously. People put up their thoughts and ideas and leave it open for criticism or advice. This goes not only for just ideas but for products, creations and services as well. For instance, many aspiring photographers have uploaded their best work only to attain feedback from other photographs all over the world. This not only spreads their skill to others but allows opinions and criticism from a very large database. These opinions and criticism can then be used for the best interests.
Another advantage of social media is that people can have control of the impressions other people make about them. (Goffman, 1959) It is true that at some point in their life, everyone wants to feel loves and important. Social media and social networking channels thus come over the people phobia and allow people to express their best potential. This may include putting up only the best pictures or saying the intelligent and cool things. Thus it allows people to be anything they want to be and ultimately feel good about them.
People work on a good and likeable image so they can be liked by their family and friends. Many a times this even means that people can go on to make relationships and friendships due to these social media channels. Online dating has been prevalent before face book. This does hint that people wish to create a presentation of them in cyberspace. (Schau&Gilly, 2003) This presentation is carried out through self-disclosure. People give the likes and feelings that would go on to create an image that the person wants to give. This self-disclosure allows for people to interact and mingle based on similar likes and dislikes.
As mentioned before, Social networks allow a person to be expressive and able to make a difference. Before, people had talents, ideas and thoughts that were only limited to their own social circle. Social media channels basically allow these social circles to expand to a more global level and thus allow ideas to spread all over the world. Social media played a major role in revolutions like the Arab Spring that took place in Egypt in 2010. Youth spread their opinions and ideas and organized protests all on these virtual websites. Thus, it has allowed people to be more updated and more in control of their situation.
Inappropriate vs. Appropriate content
A major setback of social media website is that information can be put up about a person or a business about them really finding out. This information can be their identity details, their personal information or a secret they don't want to tell anyone. On a more serious note, these can be pictures or videos that expose the person in a way they don't want to be exposed in the public. Playing with a person's feelings or harming them in this way most definitely falls under inappropriate content. These channels are there for a person to be expressive and creative about themselves alone. However, making false rumors, fake profiles and false images about a person is inappropriate content.
Posing to be someone else or totally faking your identity to create relationships can also be inappropriate content. Maybe this does not become a security hazard if a person doesn't show themselves as ugly when they really are. However, this becomes dangerous when internet sex predators pretend to be someone innocent and thus go on to trap kids and even adults. This sort of fake profiles and fake presentation is definitely inappropriate. Claims and Assertions that are not true at all also fall under inappropriate content. This goes for companies who give false information about their services and products and thus fool potential customers. There are many negative consequences of inappropriate content. As mentioned before, inappropriate content can go on to hurt, defame and ruin a person's life. There have been instances where girls have committed suicide due to nude pictures of them being posted on face book. Thus, inappropriate content can affect people psychologically and…