Social media has become an important medium of communication for individuals as well as for the companies, government, news channels, and various other groups. Social media influence on people is continuously increasing. Social media provides a common platform to the people where they can share their ideas, likes, dislikes, important information, news, pictures, and various other information. This platform facilitates people not only communicate with known person, but also with unknown persons. The social media have various advantages and disadvantages. This paper presents a detailed analysis of social media, its usage, advantages, problems, and solutions to the problems. The paper will provide a fair idea to the reader about different aspects of social media, and how it is gaining popularity.
Social media is a way of interaction between individuals, communities and groups. Social media is a platform that facilitates the users to share their views, documents and a number of other things of their choice. Social media allows people to interact with their known contacts, and also with several other people whom they find on the social networking sites. This paper intends to discuss the social media along with discussing various problems and solutions of the social media.
Social media is quite different from the other traditional methods of interactions in terms of its reach, quality, time and associated cost. Today the social media has emerged as one of the most powerful mediums of expression, and its effect is visible in almost every civilized society across the world. Social media has helped in organizing several movements in recent years, in different countries. There are several countries where the governments were changed due to people revolt against their own governments after communicating, interacting and organizing through different social networking sites.
The history of social media takes us into the middle of the twentieth century. CompuServe was the first internet service provider among the Americans, and it remained until the revolution that took place during the 1990’s. The decade of 1990 was an era of the revolution in social media sector, and the world was introduced to a new phase of information and communication. This sector was flooded with huge number of internet service provider companies at very reasonable cost. A number of websites emerged that facilitated people and provided them a new revolutionary world of information.
Google, myspace, friends reunited, Wikipedia, Friendster, AOL and bunch of other internet networking sites revolutionized the internet users. The youngsters were almost lost in these social networking sites. Orkut, Twitter and Facebook were introduced in the market, and users became mad for these sites. The number of users of these social networking sites was in millions and kept growing further (Kaplan & Haenlein).
Today these sites affect the whole world, and it is not possible to find any individual who is not aware of effects of the social media. There is a diverse variety of social media and there is something for everyone. There are social blogs, weblogs, microblogs, social networking sites, dating sites and the recent entrant on the blog are the mobile media. Mobile has played a significant role in increasing the fever of the social media with the launch of applications like ‘whats app’.
Vasterman (2005) in his article talks about social media and its impact on overall communication. According to the author social media, is playing major role in spreading the news. News develops their own life by creating big news on certain story or subject (Vasterman). Media-hype is very common word used by the people during the debates which, refers to inflation of media coverage. People inflate news because they perceive higher associated value of that news. Social media tools help in inflating news because of its large reach. News travels very quickly from one person to many people by social media tools. People get informed on different subjects including sensitive issues by social media (Vasterman).
Problems of social media
Like everything else, there are two aspects of the social media. If there are benefits of the social media, there are several problems also. The social media has emerged as a medium of exchanging various information and, ideas and this makes social media vulnerable to various problems. It is observed that some anti social elements start rumoring about some sensitive issue, and the whole society suffers the consequences.
Kaplan & Haenlein (2010), in their article talked about various problems associated with social media. Authors mentioned that social media has become an important issue for all business companies and senior executives. Organizations across the globe are utilizing social media tools to inform people about their products and services. Application of social media tools is inexpensive, but yet very effective, but it is not necessary that information provided by social media is always true (Kaplan & Haenlein). Some companies get involved in spreading wrong information or false praise of their products by using social media. The authors also described virtual games and virtual world.
People make their profile on social networking sites and provide some very personal information about them. Such information is prone to be manipulated by fraudsters, and they can misuse the same. There are several instances identified where people are cheated because some thug manipulated the information that was provided by them on the social networking sites. These sites have created huge mess for the women users. When a female provides her pictures and information, there are higher chances of being misused.
Bullying and threatening are very common on these networking sites. There are several instances that suggest victims were bullied and threatened by strangers in a very harsh manner. People make fake accounts, and starts threatening other people without any reason. Abuse and threats are very common that a number of users face on these sites by other. When people discuss or share their ideas on any social networking site, and somebody does not like them, it becomes a matter of dispute and sometimes the situation deteriorates in a bad manner.
Kietzmann et al. (2011) in their study analyzed different aspects associated with social media such as its functions and associated problems. According to the authors, people utilized internet to spread information they gathered from different sources. Similarly, social media tools are also support in spreading information (Kietzmann et al.). Presently people are not utilizing social media tools just for spreading positive information or creating a positive environment; people are damaging relationships, spreading wrong information about others, and spreading bad information to tarnish image of their counterparts.
The social media is a platform for the users to share the ideas, and information but several incidents suggest that these sites are the hub of sexual predators. These predators keep hunting for the girls who are emotionally vulnerable. Sometimes people interact with strangers and get trapped in the net of sex predators. These sites have emerged as a major problem for the police and other law implementing agencies due to their untraditional nature of trapping the victims. It is not easy for anybody to trace a criminal who is operating from a distant place on the internet with a wrong identity.
The social media affects the practical life of the people as they pass their maximum time on these social sites. People make friends on these sites instead of making real friends in their daily life. Social media users feel isolated on these social networking sites. These sites make people addict, and they spend hours surfing these sites. Mobile has further worsens the situation as people always carry mobile with them and remain in touch of these social networking sites.
It is difficult to control the piracy and to maintain the secrecy on these sites. The copyright laws get violated when users share the copyrighted material without prior permission of the owners and pose as the creators of the shared item. There are several users who share secret and sensitive information that may affect the society in an adverse manner. There are several instances that took place after some secret and sensitive information is deliberately shared on these sites.
Solutions to Social Media Problems
Increasing social media problems are attracting attention of service providers as well users to take preventive measures in order to avoid problems. Service providers should ensure that person who is making an account on social networking site is the real person or not. There is need of mechanism for authentication of the users. All service providers should create the personal account of individuals only after receiving a copy of the government approved photo-ID of the person.
Companies are protecting individual’s accounts by securing them with a unique password. Any individual is allowed to access his account only after entering the right password into the system. Recently companies have started two-factor authentication mechanism. In this mechanism, individuals are also required to enter a verification code along with their password. This mechanism protects accounts from virus and unknown attacks. Service providers also allowed users to set their privacy settings; this allows users to protect their information from undesired access. Individuals can allow only selected people or groups to view their information posted on social networking sites (Kietzmann et al.).
Rappaport (2002) in her study analyzed the solutions to social media problems. According to the author, social media is very vital part of social life, and it is important that people adopt fair approach while using or communing via social media. It is important that people evaluate any subject not only from their personal point of view, but also by considering others (Rappaport). People utilized social media just for their own benefits. However, there is need to understand the greater good, which means benefit of community.
Various organizations are facing loss of man-hours, productivity, and lawsuits due to use of social networking sites at workplace. Employees are spending a great amount of official time on social media sites and losing their productivity. The biggest question in front of organizations is whether to ban social media sites at workplace or allow their employees to use them. It is legal to prohibit use of such sites at workplace, and monitor activities performed by the employees on company’s network. Some companies are providing trainings to their employees on effective and minimum use of such sites (Rappaport).
Companies are establishing strong policies on security and use of social media sites. These initiatives controlled unwanted access of employees to social networking sites that helps in saving man-hours for the company, and increase employee’s efficiency. Companies consider it as major source of distraction, and spreading pictures or information that may attract litigation. Employees monitoring at work place has become common. Companies are considering monitoring may create some problems for employees, but it is necessary to restrict employees’ access to social networking sites.
Social networking companies are protecting their account holders from different types of threats such as fake profile, spam, and various other threats by adopting internal safety mechanism. For example Facebook has internal immune security system that protects users from spiteful attacks. Social networking sites are utilizing advance technology in order to protect individuals from such undesired attacks.
Having observed the succinct analysis of the social media and its benefits and solutions, it can be concluded that the social media is a very powerful medium of expression. There are enormous benefits of the social media but one should always take care of the fact that this tool should not be misused in any case. The social networking sites provide gargantuan amount of information to the users and the same should be used in a positive manner.
There are still people who are deprived of the appropriate information and need the information and knowledge. The social media can play a significant role in solving their problems. The social media is a sea of opportunities, information and knowledge if the same is used with a positive approach. There are certain steps that are required to be taken in order to pacify the issue of the social media and once these steps are taken, the social media will be able to help the world in a substantial manner.
Kaplan, A. M., and Haenlein, M. "Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media." Business Horizons (2010): 59–68.
Kietzmann, J.H., Hermkens, K., McCarthy, I.P., & Silvestre, B.S. "Social media? Get serious! Understanding the functional building blocks of social media." Business Horizons, 54(3) (2011): 241–251.
Rappaport, Julian. "In Praise of Paradox: A Social Policy of Empowerment over Prevention." A Quarter Century of Community Psychology (2002): 121-145.
Vasterman, Peter L.M. "Media-Hype: Self-Reinforcing News Waves, Journalistic Standards and the Construction of Social Problems ." European Journal of Communication , 20(4) (2005): 508-530.