Tuesday, 25 September 2012


"Privacy is dead, and social media hold the smoking gun"

Pete Cashmore.

Social Media was introduced to the world in the last decade but it feels like it's been around forever.
The use of social media has become a part of people's day to day life. Some may even take that statement to another level and argue 'it's a way of life'.

But what does this really mean for society?

Unfortunately social media is not always good or healthy for us.

This blog will analyse the negative aspects of social media, looking specifically at the following three impacts on society: privacy breaches, electronic relationships, and effects on communication.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Privacy Breaches and Corporate Espionage

Social Media provides the opportunity for individuals, corporations or governments to look at users' profiles and acquire information about them. In some cases, this can lead to breaching users' privacy.

This impacts society in many different ways.

An example of this can be seen in the recent increase of job hunters being stalked on social networks.
Social networks allow users to post photos, interests, opinions among numerous other things.

It is in no-way appropriate for employers to "Facebook stalk" potential new employees and peek on their private life. Let alone make a decision on whether to employ a person or not, based on their private life outings or interests.

Unfortunately this breach of privacy doesn't end when you land the job.

A specific example can be seen in India, where a survey shows "over 35 per cent of companies are engaged in corporate espionage to gain advantage over their competitors and are even spying on their employees via social networking"

Companies are spying on society via social media to gather more and more information about us, and gain tiny advantages over their competitors. Without realizing, users of social media display information showing preferences, opinions, interests and dislikes or even more specific information, like the time they do their weekly shopping or eat their dinner.

This can be vital information for corporations, but we shouldn't have to tolerate with their constant observation.

Electronic Relationships

A new type of relationship has emerged in society.

Due to the domination of social media, we have developed a new way of interacting and forming relationships with other people. This type of relationship has been denominated 'electronic relationship'.

Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter allow us to have a countless amount of  'friends' we can interact with.

If we analyse the word friend, we will find that its definition (according to thefreedictionary.com/friends) is:
"A person whom one knows, likes, and trusts."
In many cases, social network users don't know the people they are friends with on their profile and consequently, are unable to like them or trust them. Simply because you can't like or trust someone you haven't met before.

Social networks allow its' users to display what they desire on their profiles.
In most cases, users opt to output their best side as opposed to the 'real them', showing their strengths, and hiding their flaws. You might think you like someone, but they could only be showing you what you want to see and not the real person they are.

Electronic relationships are also making it difficult for us to differentiate our strong ties from our weak ties.
It's creating a confusion, almost erasing the line between those who are close to us, to those who are acquaintances rather than genuine friends. Social Networks give us the opportunity to interact with people equally, no matter how often we see them, or how close they are to us. If they are on-line we can interact.

That seems to be driving us to relate more with acquaintances we aren't close with,  instead of  interacting with the people we really care about.

Negative Effects On Communication Skills

For centuries humans have communicated with each other face to face, in different languages and dialects. As we grow up, we develop certain skills that allow us to relate and communicate with each other.

In the last few years, social media has taken over the way we communicate. 
Email, Instant Messaging and Social Networking have become common day to day communication tools among society. Instead of talking, looking at each other, while being at the same physical place, we seem to be spending much more time communicating behind a keyboard. 

Off course face to face communication still exists, but social media communication is increasing at a worrying pace. How is this negative to society you may ask?

Let's look at communication through Twitter. Twitter is an extremely popular social network with more than 500 million users as of February, 2012.
This social media tool enables users to send text messages containing a maximum of 140 characters.
This restriction drastically changes the social dynamic in conversations, as you are forced to get your point across in under 140 characters as opposed to a normal conversation. The restriction also drives you to use abbreviations or misspelling of words to fit your message.
In consequence, potentially 500 million users around the world (and counting) are making a habit of misspelling and abbreviating words in their day to day life. 

This can have a negative impact on our communication skills. 
For example, hypothetically speaking, if in the future they have to deliver a speech to an audience. Will they be able to express themselves easily in more than 140 characters? If they have to write a legal document, will they be able to do it without misspelling or abbreviating words?

This leads to another negative impact social media has on society's communication skills: the decrease of face to face interaction. A 2010 research study conducted in America targeting teenagers, showed that 54% percent of teenagers text their friends once a day, and only 33% said they talk to their friends face-to-face on a daily basis.

Face to face interaction is vital for society to function, as not everything can be done behind a screen and a keyboard.

We need physical and social interaction to live. 
With the increasing amount of users and number of addictive-hours we spend on social media, face to face interaction is spiralling down. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

To Conclude

There is no denying that social media has taken over conventional media in the world today.
However, through the aspects mentioned above we can see it can have negative impacts on our society.

Social media is changing the way we interact, share and communicate, but unfortunately it's not necessarily improving these aspects of society. In fact, social media can have the exact opposite effect.

Whether it's minimizing face to face interaction, or breaching our society's privacy, social media is having a huge impact on today's society.

Next time we're logging onto our Facebook, why not take a minute and ask ourselves:

'How is social media impacting me?'

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Initial Research: Ten Links

One of the negative impacts is that social networking has contributed to a downward slope in communication skills. As this article shows, various factors involved in social network communication are having a negative impact on people's communication skills. For example the amount restriction of characters forcing us to express ourselves in as few words as possible, or the option to edit our comments diminishing spontaneity.

Following the same concept of the last article, this one expands on the negative impact social media has specifically in communication between teenagers. While teenagers spend more and more time chatting through computers or cell phones, face to face conversation are becoming less common loosing quality real time, face to face interaction.
This link refers to these social network relationships as 'electronic relationships' and states they're not the same as real relationships, affecting our ability to differ for example acquaintances and genuine friendships.

This link deals with "social network addiction" explaining the amount of time we are putting into social networking, and most important of all, the dependency we're acquiring to it, can compare to that of a drug addict to its respective drug.

Another example of the negative impact of communication through social media can be seen in this article by the BBC about the recent England Riots. As social media can reach masses in a fast manner, social networks were used to organize riots which ended in wreckage of property and injuries.

Another, much talked about, impact social media has on society is the breach of privacy.
This link explains hows coorporate espionage in India through social media, is used by corporations to gain an advantage over their competitors, and also spying their employees through social networking websites.

Even the way employers go about the process of adding employees to their companies is changing. As seen in this article on ABC, job hunters are stalked on social media, some saying networking sites like Facebook have cost them their job.

This article on Forbes Magazine, shows that Facebook's privacy issues are deeper than we know making much of our information public for anyone to see.

This link analyses the inappropriate use of collected information from social media applications.

This interesting article on The Atlantic Magazine, goes into yet another way social media can be used to control society, showing how the CIA uses social media to track how people feel.

Monday, 27 August 2012


England riots: Government mulls social media controls. (2011). Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14493497

Jarvis, T. (2009). Social Not-Working: The Perils of Too Much Communication. Retrieved September 12, 2012 from http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Negative-Impact-of-Social-Networking-Websites-at-Work

Stout, H. (2010). Antisocial Networking?. Retrieved September 12, 2012, from http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/fashion/02BEST.html?_r=1&

Corporate espionage via social media rampant in India Inc: Assocham. (2012). Retrieved September 12, 2012 from http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/companies/article3543704.ece

Andersen, B. (2012) Job Hunters Stalked On Social Media. Retrieved September 12, 2012 from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-03-21/job-hunters-stalked-on-social-media/3904004