Use and Abuse of Social Media

The Use

The number of users, regardless of their age, has increased rapidly. These are some of the reasons which may attribute to the popularity of social media:

• Social media is a bridge of communication between people. The main use of social media is to stay connected with friends and family who are scattered across the globe.

• Reading blogs and posts can widen a reader’s horizon on various topics on events that cannot be found readily in magazines and newspapers. It is important to read about other people’s opinions on various topics. Such interactions have empowered activists and particularly the youth to participate in revolutionary marches and uprisings.

• Gone are the days when job hunters relied on news of vacancies advertised in newspapers and employment publications. Today, job seekers can connect to prospective employers and referrals through social networking sites and job portals.

• Marketers and promoters can reach out to potential customers by using the social media as their launching pad. Video content marketing is one of the recent trends to introduce products to viewers on popular sites such as YouTube and LinkedIn. These videos are fun and attention-grabbing which can be shared with other viewers.

The Abuse

The other side of the same coin is not clean. While the social media has brought the world closer, it has given rise to crime and anti-privacy conduct. The advantages and used of social media have been marred by those who use it to go against societal norms, as these instances:

• Disgruntled employees use the social media as a platform to air their grievances and woes about their employers and organizations; spiteful ex-lovers upload explicit details to cause embarrassment to their former partners. What used to be private becomes public.

• Bullying people online has claimed many victims, many who were teenagers unable to stop vicious posts and comments about them online.

• Ethical hacking which has its uses to decipher anti-social acts has proved to be a millstone to governments worldwide-hacking has raised the crime rate further. Hackers have found ways to intrude on personal and bank details without being found out in time.

The Cure

It is necessary for the development of social media policy which protects one’s privacy and potential risks for individuals and businesses. There are ways to ensure social media does not become a deterrent to users and the community:

• Avoid posting personal information such as home addresses and telephone numbers on public forums.

• Adjust the privacy settings in accounts on networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

• Scrutinize profiles of those who send online requests to be connected.

Inspite of the pros and cons, social media cannot be dismissed and is here to stay. The present and future generations will use their online identity, conversations, groups, and shared posts as building blocks to reach out and interact with friends and acquaintances.