Social Media: For Good or For Bad

It is an undeniable fact that social media has plagued our lives. It allows us to create and share information, ideas and other form of expressions via virtual networks. Social media has been so intertwined in our lifestyle that it has become an irreplaceable element of our lives. In recent years, social media has proved to be the most expanding source of news especially for adults. An American survey of 1,520 adults conducted March 7-April 4, 2016, finds that Facebook continues to be America’s most popular social networking platform ……… 68% of all U.S. adults are Facebook users, while 28% use Instagram, 26% use Pinterest, 25% use LinkedIn and 21% use Twitter.

Everything has negative and positive effects, critics of social media that it has influenced the mindsets of many people across the globe. It sometimes helps people in manipulating the innocent and harass the weaker. The reliability and credibility of the content posted on social media sites must be taken into account as the freedom of expression sometimes create biasness. Although social media has proved to be an easily accessible and an important platform for the people, however, it is not beneficial because it gives us fake news, results in hate speech and promotes prejudice.

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Firstly, social media is a mechanism to disseminate information quickly – whether the information is correct or incorrect. Any kind of news can go viral on social media in no time and no one can check its originality. The principle danger of using social media for news gathering is its factualness. Shailesh Shekhar, Editor in Chief, India Today Group Digital said, “Watch out for inaccurate information, wrong facts or exaggerated versions.” Concerning news dissemination, you lose control over your data with each layer of transmission, as people mutilate, decipher and interpret the original report in their own way and this results in many ambiguities about the news report. If the audience do not have any background information on the shared content, then it is easy to feed them on any kind of news, whether it is true or not. As a story in Tribune read that:

 

“Social media posts and premature reporting by private TV channels
led citizens to believe a second blast had taken place at a cafe in Gulberg
right after the explosion in DHA Z-Block Market. The fake news gave
rise to other rumor on social media about a school being hit by terrorists
in Defense.”

The news about blast was denied by the officials but a wave of fear struck the people. They were panicked after this news and shut themselves inside their houses.

Moreover, social media, unlike traditional media sources, sometimes creates hatred among people. It offers people one to one conversation on any news posted online. People can share their opinions by commenting on it. With millions of users utilizing social media across different platforms, it is a powerful tool used to raise one’s voice. But after posting a news, there also comes rebuttals from the people having different ideologies. That is when the problem starts. People belonging to one class of thought criticize other classes and sometimes, this gets worse when people starts to bully each other. These kinds of keyboard fighting are very common on political issues on social media. This can lead to hatred among the members of the same society and people will be less unified in that society.

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Furthermore, social media has propensity for prejudice among people. Most important debate on social media is about the prominence of selective topics on someone’s timeline. Every day different types of post are shown on our news feed. The kinds of post depend on the trending activities of our daily life. Sometimes news channels can develop contacts with people and help them make a video trending or a headline. They manipulate different kinds of information at their own will, at the same time influence the audience and creates biasness.

 

 

While on the other side, viewers are left in a delusional state that what they see reflects the total interest of users on social platform. Such kind of things can lead to inhibit the ability of critical thinking of the user. They are neither able to focus nor able to consume other people opinions but are limited to grasp what interfere with their thoughts constructively. It is also because of the selective persons you are following on different platforms of social media. If you are a liberal, then you might have been following other liberals and as a result your ‘News Feed’ will be spammed with the articles shared by them.

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All these articles will be around the same perspective because they are written by the people sharing the same thought. Moreover, according to search data collected from online websites, people searched for the information not only to fortify their own stance but also reject contrary viewpoints of people. The authors of a 2009 study concluded, “blog authors tend to link to their ideological kindred and blog readers gravitate to blogs that reinforce their existing viewpoints.” The Internet inspired “participation,” but the participants ended up in “cloistered cocoons of cognitive consonance.” Thus, if any information — opposing your view, come across your eye you will be a victim of keyboard war, mentioned in previous paragraph.

The Internet inspired “participation,” but the participants ended up in “cloistered cocoons of cognitive consonance.” Thus, if any information — opposing your view, come across your eye you will be a victim of keyboard war, mentioned in previous paragraph. Conversely, proponents of social media argue about the its vast accessibility along with tremendous speed. One cannot deny this sole feature of social media. One does not have to wait for specific news on television, anyone can search online and can get access to any kind of news of interest. As far as there is an issue concerned with the authenticity of news on social media, many programmers are working to cope with this specific problem and trying to make social media a platform free of false news.

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They are trying to implement a system such that only credible news can be posted on social network and baseless news can be discarded. But the creation of such system seems to be impossible because from what reference that system will be able to differentiate between accurate and inaccurate material. Moreover, if somehow, they get succeeded in establishing such an algorithm then the biasness in news on this global network cannot be catered.The rising trend of people towards social media is alarming as well as appreciable keeping in view the pros and cons. On one hand, it is globalizing the whole world into a global village but at the same time many factors must be considered which are causing serious problems.

In this era, where people have freedom of expression and thought so anyone can manipulate the content according to its perception which can make content incredible and fake. Also, the feelings that are poured into words can consequently lead to spread hatred as somethings for one person that lie in extremism may lie in the liberal space of the other individual. This gives rise to heated debate.

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Many people as already mentioned above when manipulate the content according to their will can also result in biasness and ultimately it lays the basis of prejudice. Keeping in view all the above reasons it can be assumed that social media spread distrust, hatred and prejudice along with causing disintegration of the society.


Works cited

Greenwood, Shannon, et al. “Social Media Update 2016.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, 11 Nov. 2016, www.pewinternet.org/2016/11/11/social-media-update-2016/. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

Alejandro, Jennifer. “Journalism in the Age of Social Media.” Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, 15 July 2014, reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/publication/journalism-age-social-media. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

Shahzad, Muhammad. “Blasts and Advisories: Rumours, Fake News Sow More Fear among Citizens.” The Express Tribune, 24 Feb. 2017, tribune.com.pk/story/1337184/blasts-advisories-rumours-fake-news-sow-fear-among-citizens/. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

Carr, Nicholas, et al. “How Social Media Is Ruining Politics.” POLITICO Magazine, 2 Sept. 2015, www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/09/2016-election-social-media-ruining-politics-213104?paginate=false. Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.


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