Social media, as you may know is no longer a new concept as many of us probably belong to an online community, sharing and absorbing information. These various social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, RenRen, all provide an opportunity to network with people across broad distances, at any given time. These platforms also provide an opportunity to build new relationships or simply kindle the flames of existing ones.
A host of reasons can be attributed to the use of social media; these may be the ease of information sharing, the ability to reach a wider audience, or simply the speed at which information is shared across various platforms. Whatever the case, most people focus only on the positive aspects, neglecting the disadvantages of these media. Nonetheless, it is worthy of mention that there are also downsides to the use of these social media platforms. Hence the saying “everything that has an advantage also has a disadvantage.”
This is perhaps the biggest challenge on social media. Because most people update their profiles across various platforms with real information of their names, photos, age, date of birth etc., strangers can easily get access to such vital information. This information, especially private photos, can be used to blackmail or demean the personality of such individuals.
I like to refer to spam as “Stop Sending Annoying Messages.” These messages, mostly generic, may contain viruses by hackers. These spam messages are multi-casted to various social networking accounts. A typical example of this is the Twitter account of Justin Bieber which was hacked and his tweets erased.
Social networks have generally weakened face-to-face interactions. Many people now get information not from sources directly, but from social networking sites. This has greatly affected how individuals interact with one another, resulting in fake or fictitious relationships.
We may all have experienced that awkward moment during dinner (or any social gathering), where one person breaks the communication flow because they are on their mobile devices checking a Facebook update or tweet. Social media generally distracts individuals who may become engrossed in real-time updates of posts on these platforms.
The ease of individuals to belong on any social networking site has also given rise to “predators”. These are people who use fake identities on such platforms to stalk others. Because these individuals have the accessibility to other people’s personal information, and interests, they can easily build false connections. This may pose a great threat especially to vulnerable individuals who build offline connections from such social media sites.
Validity of information
Social media has created an avenue for everyone to become a publisher of information. Although this freedom of information sharing has given rise to conversational liberation, the validity of information shared across various platforms remains questionable. People may share information based on personal opinion, prejudice, or bias; this may be misleading and fictitious.