Scrolling though my news feed online, one has to constantly wonder what drives people to put as much information as they do online? At any given time, on any given day we can fine out when each other woke up, what they had to eat, where they work, hang out, who they date, what happen in their relationship, and what their children look like. Cyber bullying is on the raise as well as crimes linked to the Internet. Is it fair to ask should we be filtering what kinds of information gets onto the world wide web? Arguments conducted on sites led to ‘real world’ violence, and others use popular social networks in ways not originally intended. Social media has taken over our lives in a way that has us putting every detail about our days on the Internet, one has to ask the question: when is it too much information?
According to Jeffbullas.com 72% of all Internet users are actively using social media, with 7.4 being the average number of apps for social communication on their smartphones based on findings from adweek.com. 95% of teenagers are online and they are sharing more than just viral videos and Instagram memes. According to pewinternet.org young users are sharing their real names, birthdays, what school they attend, and other very sensitive information. What’s more alarming is 20% of all teenagers are sharing nude or semi-nude images of themselves (pcsndreams.com).
The over share of such information has lead to an increase in cyber bullying and suicide among the younger population. Based on meganmeierfoundation.org 2.2 million students experienced cyber bullying in 2011.
Megan Meier was a 13year old girl who was teased relentlessly for being over weight by her peers and ex-friends. She had met a boy online and begun a friendship with him. 3 weeks shy of her 14th birthday, she took her own life because the boy named Josh had, apparently, heard of the rumors surrounding Megan’s names. His last words to her were “…You are a bad person and everybody hates you. Have a shitty rest of your life. The world would be a better place without you. “. In the weeks the followed after her death, the FBI had a hard time retrieving the messages off Megan’s computer because Josh’s account was deleted. Upon further investigation, the police found out the young boys account was a fake, created by Megan’s former friends, and what’s worse, parent of the teenage girls. ( More on Megan Meier)
Social media gives us a platform to vent, get feedback, and comment on others online. It is exposing us to where what we say can be seen or read by anyone. So what you intended as a private joke between your friends and you could land you in trouble because it hurt someone’s political, social or personal. People have lost jobs, gotten in trouble with the law, and often have to justify their actions.
Comedian Gilbert Gottfried, the voice of the Aflac duck, was fired from the insurance company after tweets he sent out regarding the tsunami in Japan. He said, “Japan is really advanced. They don’t go to the beach. The beach comes to them”. As the largest insurance company in Japan, their spokesperson tweets came off insensitive and in poor taste. (Read more)
New York congressman Anthony Weiner tweeted a sexually explicit photo of himself to a college student. He later tried to justify the lewd image by saying it was intended to be in a private, direct message and not a public tweet. He resigned from his post and made a comeback to politics a few years later. However he sent out additional sexually suggestive images, during a 2013 mayoral campaign, to a young woman.(Read more and).
According to bbc.com 1 in 10 job seekers have lost jobs because of something they posted on their social media pages. New hire, Connor Riley, was offered a job at Cisco and decided to tweet about it. She wrote, “Cisco just offered me a job! Now I have to weigh the utility of a fatty paycheck against the daily commute to San Jose and hating work.” Upon seeing the post, her employer recanted the job offer.
Not only what we say but sometimes what we post can infringe on some ones right to privacy. An article on yahoo.com tells of a father who posted a video of his young child’s annual school performance on social media. He was asked to remove it by the teachers because of a school policy that prohibits the sharing of content online without parental consent of other minors. He was outraged at not being able to share it online. However, where children are involved it’s always best to be more diligent and conscience about what we post.
A story posted on ranker.com is not only very bizarre, but speaks to why keeping teens and other children, online, is a growing concern. After the murder of three teenagers, a “death list” appeared on a Facebook post with the teenagers’ names. Weeks later, another name was posted and another murder happened. What’s alarming is no one was convicted of the crime. Not only that, but the crimes only stopped because other communications came to light requesting additional teens to move away or else be killed. The families of the blacklisted youth fled town never to be seen again.
According to Socialmediatoday.com 80 percent of web-initiated crimes involve a form of social media platform, which often include Facebook and Twitter. 50 % of sex crimes involving a minor had the offender point of first contact being through information gathered of theirs victims off online profile.
The Internet allows users constant access to everyone’s personal lives, regardless of if you actually know them or not. We follow our favourites celebrities so much that we think we know them on a first name basic, and have the right to comment on their personal lives. People have weighed in about the Beyonce, Jay-Z and Solange Met Ball elevator scandal. Because no one actually knows why the youngest Knowles sister was attacking her sister’s rapper /mogul husband, many have speculated marital issues, cheating, and poor relations between the two opposing family members. (Read more)
Chris Brown, Rihanna, and Chris’ stylist/girlfriend Karrueche Tran is another talked about issue on social media. First starting with the very memorable assault (billboard.com) on Rihanna by Chris back in 2009 before the Grammys. Very many online users had plenty to say about the abuse. Then with the two getting back together in 2012, and the love triangle between the trio, further input about their personal lives were up for public discussion.
Finally, one of the most talked about topics of 2014 according to forbes.com, Canadian pop star, Justin Beiber, has also been subjected to public scrutiny on social media. His on again off again relationship with Disney star, Selena Gomez, has been a trending topic, as well as his legal issues. He has been called many names on social media, and as of recently he had to overhaul his image to keep his fan base.
Social media and the Internet aren’t all evil. In recent years it have been a way to examine large portions of the population and in great detail. How many time have you been excited about something in your life and you just had to share the news with the world? Maybe you just got a new job or a new outfit, and your first impulse is to broadcast it with your followers and their followers alike. Our first inclination to post information brought about a great amount of research regarding online behaviors. It is all still very new and continues to develop. Social media is a source of data that is hard to resist, people want to say something about what’s happening in the world. Going online is a quick way to tap into our networks and find out what people are saying and to have a voice.
Social media is a fast way to spread news. Socialnetworking.procon.org suggests that more that 50% of people learn about breaking news via social media. Most recently, many people referred to twitter or other popular site to confirm the death of actor/comedian Robin Williams and to learn the details surround his suicide. There was also an outpour of support and love to the actor through social media.
Based on the same findings from socialnetworking.procon.org Social networking sites increase voter participation. The Obama campaign reached 5 million supporters utilizing 15 different social Networks. It was one of, if not, the first campaign to apply social media to optimize the reach of supporters. Because voter numbers were always low amongst minorities, his campaign empowered that demographic to vote. (Read more).
The take away message of this article isn’t to stop the use of social media, or to discourage the reader from ever going online out of fear of hacking, stalking, cyber bullying, and fear of job loss due to irresponsible tweeting. The purpose of this was to show how a tool, which was meant to bring the masses together, has been misused over the years. Not to say bullying, political scandal, and sexual preying didn’t exist before social media, but people have taken advantage of how connected todays society is. The Internet and social media are just tools in the hands of people. Any tool can be dangerous or harmful if not use correctly and for the intended purpose.
Being that the world wide web has only been around for approximately 20 years, guidelines and laws to govern it are fairly new and still in process. Lawmakers are faced with new challenges in unchartered territory. Consider this: the 10 commandments have been around since the days of Moses and humanity still cant seem to get it right.