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The above quote raises a number of questions as we witness an influx of social media platforms. Let me start off by defining social media.
What is Social Media?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Social Media refers to “forms of electronic communication (such as websites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (such as videos)”.
To explain this further, Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, and/or exchange information and ideas via virtual platforms.
I see Social Media as the future of communication. There are countless array of Internet based tools and platforms that increase and enhance the sharing of information. This new form of media makes the transfer of text, photos, audio, video, and information, in general, increasingly fluid among Internet users. Social media indeed has enormous impact on individuals, societies, institutions and even businesses.
Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Blogs, LinkedIn and other online community platforms have created online communities where people can share as much or as little personal information as they desire with other members. The result is an enormous amount of information that can be easily shared, searched, promoted, distributed, and created.
The Impact of Social Media:
The MUNPLanet platform is a typical example of how online platform (social media) is impacting the lives of individuals. Today, people from the world over visit the platform to either access information or share them. Today, social networks help businesses in a variety of ways. Traditional marketing mediums such as radio, TV and print ads are almost obsolete and always require for huge budget. However with social media businesses can connect with their targeted customers for free. Today a business can save huge cost from using social media platforms as marketing and advertising tools.
With the increase in popularity of microblogs like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, social media has gained enormous attention as the most viable communication choice for bloggers, journalists, activists, content creators etc. It opened a new opportunity for writers and bloggers. It brings a wider range of views and has a far reach than newspapers. One’s audience can even share one’s articles, post or expertise on their social circle which further makes contents more viral. New communication platforms have removed many of the communication and interaction barriers. This gives people the latitude to express their views in a variety of ways.
In my view, the most interesting and important thing about social media is its ability to unite people on a huge platform for the achievement of some specific objectives. If used positively, social media is very important in bringing positive societal changes.
This is exactly what MUNPLanet is involved with. The website “munplanet.com” has brought together people from different parts of the world to interact on a wide range of issues.
However, we must not forget that social media has some downsides or negative effects as well. Just like any other medium, it has the power to make and unmake society. It has the propensity to bring issues of misunderstanding in society and between individuals.
Social media has huge impacts in collective actions. At first glance, the new technology provides movements with powerful, speedy, and relatively low-cost tools for recruitment, fundraising, the distribution of information and images, collective discussions and mobilizing for action (Bennett, 2004; Bimber, Flanagin, & Stohl, 2012; Bimber, Flanagin, & Stohl, 2005; Earl & Kimport, 2011). Social media was the tool that fanned the flames of violence in the Arab Spring. Media experts and political commentators argue that in Egypt social media, together with other media including Al-Jazeera and mobile phones, played important roles in facilitating the protests.
You can read more about the impact of social media on the Arab spring from the attached PDF
Cyber bullying has become more popular today than ten years ago. It has spread widely among youth, with 42% reporting that they have been victims, according to a 2010 CBS News report. The immediacy provided by social media is available to predators as well as friends. The devastation of these online attacks can leave deep mental scars and sometimes can even lead to death (suicide).
A False Sense of Connection is another negative impact. According to Cornell University's Steven Strogatz, social media sites can make it more difficult for us to distinguish between the meaningful relationships we foster in the real world, and the numerous casual relationships formed through social media.
In conclusion, depending on the intent of the user, social media can have either negative or positive impacts. Today governments (even the White House), businesses, individuals and other institutions rely on social media to disseminate information to their audience.