Social Media as a Source of Mass Communication

Social Media

Communication and media have become significant in the contemporary world. The storage and delivery of information has improved using diverse gadgets such as computers. Sheehan and Quinn-Allan (2015) assert that following the advancement of technology, the current media and communication has become more sophisticated compared to the past. For instance, gadgets like mobile phones, laptops, tablets, iPads among others have become common and they occupy a crucial part of everyone’s life. Most activities in the contemporary world exceedingly rely on the media for their accomplishment. Typical examples of such activities include transactions of businesses, education, and communication aimed at passing particular messages to individuals. In light of the technological advancements, individuals have had the need to familiarize with everything associated with media, as well as acquire the necessary gadgets for use in communication. The current paper explains how social media has evolved in the society as a form of communication including its functions, and the respective positive and negative effects it bears in the facilitation of communication.

How Social Media Evolved as a Source of Communication

The development of social media began with the early online businesses that individuals started using their actual names. Lipschultz (2014) confirms that the initial social networks did not last long because of the loss of interest among users. The factor played an instrumental role in paving way for the emergence of social networking sites. Most people have continued embracing the use of social networking sites because of the easier and affordable access to technology-supported devices such as smartphones. The key popular sites that individuals are using for communication include Facebook, twitter, enterprise social networks, LinkedIn, and business networks.

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Moreover, social media has created more interactive platforms that enable communities and people to discuss and share ideas in the society. The innovation has made work easier and improved the accuracy of information. Furthermore, websites facilitate changes in communication within organizations, between individuals, communities, and businesses that has led to the increased effectiveness and clarity. Nearly every age bracket has embraced social media technologies, although the youth have adopted them overwhelmingly. Eaton (2014) reiterates that the current youthful generation is almost synonymous with social media technologies. In fact, majority have become addicted to the web services to an extent that an hour hardly goes without them chatting or doing a number of things on social media.

Positive Impacts of Social Media

The number of positive effect is numerous. First, social media is a hub of information. Data about individuals, business organizations, and institutions are contained in social media platforms. Thus, communication technologies can be a suitable means of information storage, research, and for references whenever need arises.  Rutsaert, et al. (2014) assert that many people find it easier to conduct research on social media than the traditional libraries. The explanation is that it saves their time to locate and retrieve the desired information as compared to perusing through textbooks and other reference materials. Moreover, information on social media is current; and therefore keeps people posted whenever an incident arises.

Second, social media has become a reliable source of knowledge and skills. According to Sheehan and Quinn-Allan (2015), social websites enable people to share knowledge and exchange experiences on a wide range. For instance, business entrepreneurs can present their expertise with the public through social media platforms. Health practitioners can as well disseminate important information about personal and environmental health. Therefore, social media has become another learning tool. It has also made learning affordable, exciting and versatile. People can have access to a wide range of data quickly and cheaply as compared to old traditional means of acquiring knowledge.

Third, the technologies have been instrumental in enabling people to explore the world in different ways. Sheehan and Quinn-Allan (2015) agree that they offer users a wide range of fields, which they can navigate through promptly unlike when they were to use traditional means. For example, in the past, gathering of information related to a specific item could be cumbersome due to the dynamics involved such as transport and logistics. However, social media can decrease all the barriers involved. The phenomenon has magnified the extent to which important information circulates among users. In fact, it explains why the current society possesses more information than the society two decades ago.

On the other hand, advertisements relating to individuals and products are spreading on social media. Many people popularize their skills, product and services for purposes of attracting potential customers. A number of institutions sell their merchandise and offers through social media, as well as advertise for vacancies of personnel. Even politicians have resorted to social media to propagate their ideologies in such for support from the electorate. Apparently, all entities have found the social platforms cheap and easier to reach a wider audience as compared to traditional means of advertisement. In the past, marketing was mainly analogous, expensive and marginal in coverage. Thus, businesses were never as vibrant as they are today.

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Despite marketing and advertisement, people have been able to make and meet friends from all over the world through social media. Eaton (2014) asserts that entrepreneurs and business people have become friends by sharing ideas through social media. For instance, on Facebook people send requests to other users after going through their profile information. As a result, they have information about their interests and preferences. It is the easiest way to get in touch with people despite the differences in their geographical locations. Most of the people who meet through social media create strong relationships that help to develop their skills and careers. It has also created opportunities to investors.

Negative Impacts of Social Media

Conversely, social media technologies have influenced the society in a number of ways, which are extremely undesirable. First, social media has largely compromised personal privacy. Many people have complained about their private information being impinged by unauthorized persons. Lipschultz (2014) claims that social media cannot fully protect the confidentiality of the users’ information. Therefore, malicious individuals have commenced the practice of hacking into other people’s accounts and using them to their own convenience. A number of persons have complained that their private information has been erroneously used and leaked to the public without their consent.

Second, a number of people, especially students, have abused technology by perpetuating plagiarism. The term is the act of copying information from the social media platforms and using it as their own. Unfortunately, the behavior has compromised integrity in many learning institutions where students cheat to earn marks. In the same breath, media piracy has also been prevalent since inception of social media technologies. Several people have complained of losing their creative work such as music and art through the Internet. Pirates have found social media as an easy way of stealing information and customizing it to their own benefit.

Moreover, issues of propaganda have also become a big problem due to social media. Some people would use social networking sites to spread rumors with an intention of defaming others. For instance, politicians have perfected the art of sharing false information about their opponents to gain political mileage. Marche (2015) asserts that some business organizations have lost reputation of their specific brands through propaganda. The issue usually arises because of negative competition that exists among rival brands. Eventually, the public witnesses not only loss of fame, but also business contacts and potential customers.

Besides, not all the information contained in social media is trustworthy. Most data, especially if generated by business entities or organizations, usually contains many exaggerations. In fact, people have reportedly fallen prey of overestimated adverts that enticed them to purchase substandard products. The same case applies to service industry, which often gives amplified information about their services, which does not reflect the real situation on the ground. Therefore, potential customers buy services that do not meet their requirements.

Finally, social media is addictive in nature. Many users, especially the youths, find it difficult to detach from online networking after signing up. According to Marche (2015), of the motivation is the wide range of products that social media brings at their disposal. Besides being informative and educative, the new technology is equally destructive as means of communication. Therefore, many users delight in playing games and navigating through other fun activities, which has become an interesting but addictive venture.

Conclusion

In conclusion, social networks and media have played a significant role in the improvement of communication in the current society. It has become inevitable in nearly every aspect of life. Although there are a number of negative effects associated with it, the positive effects outweigh the negative consequences. Users can focus more on the positive impact as they work hard to overcome the negative effect to increase the relevancy and usefulness of social networks. The people should observe media and communication etiquette, and service providers have a huge role to play in regulating the use of their platforms as well. They can set up parameters that will promote fruitful use of their services without allowing a leeway for misuse and abuse. Finally, misuse of media and communication technologies is an indication of the need for clear regulations to govern the industry.

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