The Dangers of Social Media

As we see the world use more and more social media, the amount of items that can go viral is insane.

In business and for popularity, this can be a good thing but false information, when taken advantage of and used in a way which is detrimental to individuals, people, cultures, societies, religion, countries can have devastating effects.

It’s so easy now to share something you have seen online, but just because it’s a image, meme, video or quote, a blog,  does not mean it’s accurate or true. However people share it anyway and this act of sharing can go viral.

Don’t believe everything you see, hear or read online. Do some thinking, check the sources and if it checks out then share otherwise you may be adding to a conspiracy, campaign, hate or someone else’s agenda or marketing scheme.

As individuals and a human collective connected via social media, it’s easy to get caught up in a social pressure. The same way we have ‘peer pressure’, which is induced when with a group of people or even a crowd, acting in a similar fashion we now seem to have a new type of ‘Social Pressure’ which can be induced when all your friends and connections are sharing a trending topic. When you see enough of your friends participating, it can be hard to hold back and easy to just jump in. It’s also an online version of the herd behaviour.  (Herd behavior describes how individuals in a group can act collectively without centralised direction. Everybody goes where the group goes.)

We know mainstream media does not showcase all the news from around the world but certain topics get highlighted more then others. Some would even say it’s manipulation of the masses. But on the flip side social media can highlight the issues which are not covered by mainstream, thus helping create awareness.

The internet is such a powerful place where even the individual blogger can compete against the big corporates. So much so that just to get news some large media news portals look for news to report from the internet. To the extent where non verified information is used just for the sake of a story at detrimental impact on innocent people. Can you believe it, they don’t even check their sources… this is madness.

News being manipulated, reposted and edited then shared. Images being manipulated from their original depiction to fit an agenda and then going viral. Videos being edited to change the message or show something which does not even fit the original version. False quotes being created to cause confusion or misguide people. Some on purpose, some for jokes. We can’t keep an eye on it all and what different people or the next generation see could be inaccurate.

The online world is a collection of all things of the human form, from good to the bad, happy and sad, high and low. It’s information overload. It’s the first source of all topics these days. If you ask people “where did you get that from?”, they say online….  it’s the first point of call for pretty much everything we do.

We know with SEO, online marketing and reputation management, search results can be manipulated, people who understand this can use these methods to push certain information around online. Can you imagine if you have the resources, finance and people, how much manipulation of the information can be done and controlled online? Even clients know they need to pay for SEO rankings.

The next best thing to the internet kill switch is manipulation of data. We have to be careful in what we put out there or read.

For a lot of people their main source of news is actually social media. Taking a look at your daily Facebook wall can give you an indication of that is going on in the world right now, which I think is a lot better then the news that comes on tv as you get more sources (and reliable ones) if you are following those channels online. You can see more of a rounded picture that way, where as TV news can seem one-sided.

Social media has its advantages but just like anything there is an opposite affect too. A lopsided perception will only give you one side of the coin. It’s up to us as individuals to more cautious of what we decide to input into our brains and if we trust where the information came form.

Just take a moment to think and check multiple good sources before you react online.

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