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Social Media


Social media is defined as the collection of Internet websites and applications that facilitate communications and exchange of media information between individuals and groups of people. Interaction and exchange of information are the main purposes of social media. However, most sites support the exchange of media, such as pictures, videos, and music. Social media defeats other Internet media in many ways; it reaches a large number of people, it is frequently used, and the transfer of information is almost real-time and inexpensive. In recent years, the popularity of social media has risen significantly. In the United States, for instance, the period of July 2011 – July 2012 saw a considerable rise in the rate of internet use from 66 billion to 121 billion in a few minutes of use; this is due to the presence of social media sites, which draw individuals and groups to use the internet. Tang, Gu, and Whinston (43) proposed to diversify the use of social media in order to cover income-generating activities, create new opportunities, and increase promotion. The quality, reach, accessibility, frequency of use, skills for usability, the permanence of information and the immediacy of information are important aspects of social media that set it apart from other traditional methods of communication. Social media display many strong features, such as effectiveness and a strong structure, but at the same time has some unconstructive effects on society, especially, because of its influence over the younger generation.


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Effectiveness of Social Media

Social media is valuable as an instrument of interaction because it covers many areas of communication (Pavlik et al. 189).  According to Murthy, “Social media has been broadly defined to refer to the many relatively inexpensive and widely accessible electronic tools that enable anyone to publish and access information, collaborate on a common effort, or build relationships (7).” The techniques of interacting include using blogs, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, photo sharing sites such as Instagram, and other specialized sites of interaction for gaming fans and the professionals. Such social media sites became popular after the Social Network Revolution, and now the masses spend a lot of their time on the Internet, interacting with their loved ones and other contacts through these sites. Social media sites are viral, which means that the expansive spread of information to numerous members of a site promotes the site. Businesses also benefit from this feature of social media sites as their advertisements reach a whole lot of potential customers. Twitter, for instance, has a re-tweet button that allows users to share a piece of information with other users (Murthy 8). The ability to access a particular social media application, using mobile devices, works to support the effectiveness of these interaction sites. Time-sensitivity and location properties of the users are an essential part of most sites available on mobile devices. The accessibility of the instruments of social media promotes openness in the exchange of ideas that can turn amateurs into professionals. In conclusion, social media has introduced a very high level of effectiveness in the industry of online communication and communication in general.

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The Building Blocks of Social Media

The framework of social media constitutes many features. They vary in nature and application but can be successfully summarized. Kietzmann et al. states “present a framework that defines social media by using seven functional building blocks: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationship, reputation, and groups (241)." It represents the purpose of social media sites in the form of building blocks that make up most of the existing social media sites. Identity covers the level of exposition of one’s personal information. Other elements of social media include the rate of interactions with other site users, the frequency of exchanging information, and the ability to locate other users. Association with the other users, believability and trust among them, and communities, based on their social media relationship, are also key in social media. These elements of social media allow them to support both social and political endeavors. The structure of social media sites is exemplified by some of the most popular existing sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

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Examples of Social Media Sites

The best examples to consider are the sites, which are widely used and, which also have a global reach such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (Pavlik et al. 189). Facebook boasts over a billion users worldwide and is used by individuals and groups to communicate and share media with their contacts and for business promotions. The networking sites Twitter and LinkedIn serve for the purpose of blogging, establishing professional connections, and seizing the opportunities respectively. Some of the social media sites are designed as applications used for posting photographs and videos for other users to view. An excellent example of this type of sites is Instagram.

Effects of Social Media Sites

Effects on the Distribution and Documentation of Information.

Social media has revolutionized the way information is divulged and increased the ease of accessibility of information. It has improved the broadcasting of news, so that more people are aware of current events thanks to what they read on social media sites. Using social media sites makes the process of getting and exchanging the news more interactive. People participate in discussions regarding the urgent issues at a particular time and in a certain place (Tang and Whinston 56). It also makes the news more interesting to read as the reader seeks a chance to participate in ongoing discussions.  However, the issue of bias arises because people tend to exaggerate events, so it makes the information, spread via social media, less accurate than that in the original source. People perceive different occurrences in various ways, which influences their own opinion, shapes their vision of the events, and, consequently, the information, they post on social media, is more subjective. It makes it hard to rely on some of the information obtained from these sites and also promotes a culture of fabrication of information.

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The effects of social media on the collective memory of events and documenting of history are essential, especially with regards to their validity and public opinion. The authority of the voice of history is shifting from the traditional means such as television and newspaper journalism to social media. Over the years traditional journalists have been considered as the main source of public memory. They provide the description of the occasions and direct people’s opinions and reactions to the events of political to social spheres on both local and international levels. Moreover, they help people to estimate the importance of these events from the point of view, presented in their reports. The power of journalism is being excelled by that of Facebook and Twitter, as different individuals and groups use these means to share their accounts and opinions about the course of events, undermining the voice of the newsmakers (Neiger et al. 118). Social media also has the power to bring different stories to light that might not catch the attention of traditional news media houses. The power of social media lies in the masses. The influence of and over the masses is a mighty tool to control the interpretation of events, which can lead to the appearance of faulty accounts of events. The authority of shaping the narration is slowly shifting from traditional newsmakers, such as journalists in television stations and dailies to the social media communities of the Internet. This process should be put in check to ensure the reliability and validity of public information.

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Effects on the Youth

The effects of social media on the youth vary with age and level of exposure. Children and teenagers are especially impressionable and can be confused or misdirected by information they obtain from the Internet.  Controlled usage of social media sites can help children to enhance interactions with family and friends, improve creativity, and experience fun learning activities. In terms of education education, children can access learning materials from these sites and obtain learning experiences from participating in different educative online forums and movements. However, these children need to be monitored when using social media sites for a variety of reasons. For one, spending a lot of time online deprives children of real life relationships and skills of building them, which might create for them a risk to develop less than ideal social skills (Widyanto and Griffiths 42). Children are susceptible to what they see online and might be exposed to alcohol and violence, or cyber bulling at a tender age.

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Teenagers are vulnerable to negative influences through online sites because of their natural curiosity at this age. Overexposure to social media sites might result in the development of antisocial and egotistical behavior because of spending a lot of time working on the online identities of these sites (Ma 8). Social media sites may also lead to the distraction of young people and make them draw the focus away from schoolwork and other important activities. Young people learn about current events from social media cites mostly, which a drastic change, as previously they exhibited low interest in current affairs, rarely reading the print news sources. Social media is believed to expose teenagers to inappropriate behavior and encourage them to use alcohol and start smoking. Cyber bullying is also a real threat for teenagers while chatting online on social media sites (Ma 9).

Social Media and Internet Addiction

Social media has increased the average amount of time spent on the Internet in many societies. Pathological Internet use and addiction has plagued Internet users of the era before the Social Media Revolution. Overreliance on the Internet and constant use of it can lead to addiction (Widyanto and Griffiths 31). Social Media can be very addictive and take the place of family and friends in a person’s life. Shapira et al. (269) suggests that Internet users who are addicted to the Internet, suffer from stress, depression and other difficulties in social and financial aspects of life, which negatively affects the results of their psychoanalysis. Addiction to the Internet shows itself in numerous ways. According to Davis, “…obsessive thought about the Internet, tolerance, diminished impulse control, inability to cease using the Internet, and withdrawal (187).”  The effects of using the Internet have been studied in numerous cases. However, there is a need to assess how the use of social media affects its users and to what extent, as compared with other traditional Internet sites. Social media cause people to spend even more time on the Internet which could result in addiction, either mild or severe. The fact is that it is dangerous in any degree. Checking what other people have posted on Facebook and constantly viewing one’s Instagram page can result in overreliance on the Internet and, especially, on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

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Criticism of Social Media

Reliability of Information

Social media has attracted attention of different areas and has received criticism on diverse grounds. The first is inconsistency in the validity and reliability of information, as well as, the existence of different accounts of the same event. Social media is an invaluable means in the spread of information but the question is how reliable and true is the information that might be received by millions of people? There is no way to determine the reliability of information, spread in social media, and it complicates its use. 

Social Media Sites as Distractions

The second point is that social media affects people’s concentration on other important elements of their lives and jobs (Davis 189). Many people have developed a habit to check constantly social media sites for new and interesting information. It consequently interrupts the activity they were involved in, whether they were at work or attending a lecture. This form of distraction interferes in people’s daily lives everywhere if they have the Internet access on their phones

Issues of Possession Rights

There is also the issue of owning different media content displayed on social media sites, therefore, disagreements over the author's rights arise. In addition, there is a risk that sensitive information may get into the wrong hands while being passed online via these sites. The platforms or the users have debates that arise over ownership of information. Property rights are difficult to identify in real life, and this only gets tougher in the virtual world of the Internet where there are no real witnesses or evidence.

Consequences on Personal Relationships

Criticism has also arisen over the seriousness of relationships created through social media sites. Disappointments seem to follow social partnerships established in social media sites. It is a very important subject for debate, especially for social media sites that are formed to enable people to look for romantic partners. Users usually pay to receive these services, however, the success or failure of these relationships relies solely on the couples. 

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Privacy Concerns

There is also the issue of privacy concerns. Private information of social media site users is being stolen from these sites and used maliciously (Tang and Whinston 46). Some of these sites usually require users to input some personal information and some may be retrieved from them without their consent, especially, in the cases of hacking incidents. Users are warned to be proactive in protecting their information, however, this is not enough to maintain privacy.


Social media display many strong features, such as effectiveness and a strong structure. However, the dangers of using social media sites for each minor purpose are evidenced by the numerous threats caused by exposure to indecent information that is likely to be found in social media sites. Children and teenagers should limit their use of the social media sites to avoid developing antisocial characteristics at their formative years. The effects of social media on spreading and gathering of the information also does not work in its favor. The validity and reliability of information decrease when it is spread from person to person, and social media encourage this process. It is also gaining momentum in information transmission, which is a reason for concern. The numerous grounds for criticism suggest that there is a need to adopt legislations in order to protect the users of social media sites and the society in general.



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