Beware of harmful use of social media | 2018-09-07 |

Beware of harmful use of social media

7 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

Social media platforms like Facebook, Google, etc. are attractive to their members for widespread access, availability and popularity. There are few other means as user friendly as Facebook for instant worldwide communication with friends and family. For these same reasons, Facebook is also popular with those who wish to misuse its extensive coverage, popularity and user friendly interface to spread hatred, fake news and propaganda.

It is time for members to smarten up to what they are getting into. It is no longer a secret that information of social media members are sold to advertisers to enable them to hit their target audience with fine tuned ad campaigns. With vast reservoirs of real-time data on billions of  members, Facebook, Google, and other social media platforms help personalise the content seen by every user, making advertisers the true customers of social media platforms, while information on the members are the products being sold to them. The real danger of the impact of Facebook was revealed when Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election. It gave a new angle to the new power of social platforms to manipulate information to influence member’s views, to amplify negative messages for a bigger audience and to compound the likelihood of undesirable outcomes.

Awareness can be empowering for social media users, as long as they do not react instantaneously to negative newsfeeds and responsibly verify the authenticity of what they forward to their friends. Therefore, if members take caution to double check on the news they get through the social media before forwarding them to their friends and family we can avert any untoward incidences occurring and take advantage of the many plusses that social media has on its side for us not to totally reject it yet. Not to forget that social media has democratised access to information and instant communication across the globe which means it is likely to remain popular till the next best thing arrives on the scene. As such, it can be used as an important tool to keep bringing people closer and creating a safer world with responsible and knowledgeable usage.