Critical Issues in Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool that enables people to connect and communicate with one another from different parts of the world. It assists people in staying opinionated. This is because we live in a world where people do not think the same, and a difference in opinion is meant to occur. Therefore, people can use social media to express their views. There is much more in social media apart from communication and work. It can also be used for entertainment purposes. For instance, people can watch short clips, read news, and view funny and entertaining memes. However, despite the positive aspects of social media, there are various issues that require attention. This essay will seek to examine the critical issues and offer evaluations of approaches that will be used to address these issues. The paper will also address the various theoretical perspectives of social media that can be used for promotional purposes.
One of the main aspects concerning social media is privacy. Though social media platforms enable people to be connected to family and friends, vast amounts of data are collected. The data collected include the people’s age, names, and locations. The data collected from social media platforms can be used for various purposes like selling information to third parties, evaluating the target market for advertising, and data analytics (Duffy & Chan 2019). According to the theory of social constructivism, people and their interactions develop the meaning and reality of social media. Therefore, the constructivists suggest that privacy concerns in social media are due to social construction.
The functionalities of social media platforms are developed by gathering information about the users, which develops the social construct of privacy. Therefore, social media platforms have tried or ignored to resolve the issues concerning privacy with data protection policies. However, these policies are complicated to understand, and therefore, this has resulted in regulating social media industries to ensure that data is protected (Fan et al. 2021). Additionally, the utilitarian approach suggests that social media dramatically benefits society. The aspects concerning social media, like privacy violations, can be justified, provided these pricy issues have outweighed the benefits.
The image below shows privacy concerns about how much data companies have on their customers derived from social media platforms.
Misinformation concerns in social media
Another major contemporary issue in social media is misinformation. There is currently various fake news, and this becomes very difficult to know which information is accurate and which needs validation. Social media has made information to be disseminated fast and efficiently, making false information rise and circulation of propaganda (Allcott 2019). This issue is prevalent in politics, where wrong and fake information is spread to influence the voting behaviors of people and their decisions. According to the theory of social learning, people can learn from their environment and observe the action of others based on their beliefs and actions.
The figure below shows the attitudes of people on social media.
Therefore social media can be perceived as a powerful tool that can be used to acquire knowledge and learn. However, misinformation can sometimes be circulated, which influences negative change. Therefore, social media platforms are supposed to ensure that the information being spread on online platforms is accurate (Wu et al. 2019). For instance, verification tools can be used in social media where people can report any misleading or fake information to the review boards for approval. Additionally, more technology should be implemented in social media, and more workers should be employed to ensure the information being shared is true and accurate.
Online harassment in social media
Social media bullying and harassment have become an appalling aspects of social media, especially for women and those in the LGBTQ community. Most people are making fun of these people, abusing and trolling them. This kind of harassment affects the mental health of the victims, and the online space becomes very unsafe and insecure for them. Most fear speaking against online abuse, and some fear using social media platforms (Schoenebeck et al., 2021). According to the theory of symbolic interaction, interactions of people in social media can be both interactive and reciprocal.
The image below shows the current state of online harassment.
Therefore, this means that the producers and consumers of social media and online abuse can impact the content. The solution that can be implemented is the use of strict rules and guidelines that will be used to detect abuse on social media platforms (Vorgels 2021). More robust reporting tools and human resources should be implemented in social media to ensure a fast and quick response to feedback. Social media reflects what happens in society; therefore, change and measures are required to handle racism and sexism. Thus, social media companies and influential organizations should work together to fight racism and discrimination in LQBTQ communities.
Suicide Concerns in social media
There are various aspects that contribute to suicide due to social media. Suicide due to social media abuse and harassment is common among young people. For instance, overusing social media poses a significant risk of suicide. A study was conducted at BYU, and it was discovered that most girls aged 13 years who spend three or more hours on social media are at a high risk of committing suicide as young adults. Researchers have concluded that girls and women are susceptible, especially when their posts are poorly received. The second aspect is the content the teens consume (Pourmand et al. 2019). Sometimes they fall victim to posts that encourage unhealthy challenges on social media platforms, which can lead to suicide. Following the content of people who offer negative influence can affect people’s health.
The image below shows how social media has contributed to suicide among teens.
A study conducted in the United Kingdom suggested that 14-year-olds are more affected by online harassment, and this can cause poor sleep, and they are also affected by depression. The study also indicated a close connection between social media and depression. The teens use social media platforms to uplift their spirits, but they end up finding harmful content that makes them more depressed, and in the end, they can end up committing suicide (Weinstein et al. 2021). Parents should teach teens to monitor and handle their emotions to resolve this issue. Additionally, if signs of suicidal thoughts or plans are discovered, the lines of communication are supposed to be open, and the case should be addressed. The social media victims’ law should hold social media organizations responsible if they harm vulnerable users.
Comparisons of theoretical perspectives on the usage of social media for promotional purposes
There are various theoretical perspectives that can be used in social media platforms for the promotion. For instance, the theoretical perspective of functionalism outlines the role of social media in achieving the functional objectives of companies, creating awareness of the company’s brand, and increasing sales. From the perspective of a functionalist, social media platforms can be viewed as powerful tools that can be used to assist companies in achieving their objectives and remaining competitive at the same time (Vrontis et al. 2021). The limitation of this theoretical perspective is that it needs to consider the social and political implications of using social media.
The other theoretical perspective is symbolic interactionism. This says that social media’s role is to shape people’s perceptions and behaviors. From the point of view of a symbolic interactionist, social media platforms influence the perceptions of people concerning the brands and commodities of organizations (Hudders et al. 2021). Additionally, they point out that social media shapes social norms and values concerning consumption. This perspective is critical in trying to understand what influences the interactions of people. The limitation of this perspective is that it needs to recognize the structural aspects that affect social media.
The critical theory explains how imbalances in power and inequalities are visible on social media platforms. The approach also explains how social media influences the ideologies and values of people. This theory upholds that social media can be used to perpetuate hegemonic ideas and promote consumer capitalism. The limitation of this theory is that it needs to consider how the power of social media can be used to challenge the narratives that have been prevailing and endow the disregarded voices (Olanrewaju et al. 2020). Another theoretical perspective is cultural materialism which says that social media is responsible for shaping and influencing culture and society. This theory explains that social media can mediate between culture and social change.
Additionally, it also explains that social media is a powerful tool that can be used to promote equality and social justice. The limitation of this theoretical perspective is that it needs to explain how social media can be used to promote diversity and inclusion. Additionally, cultural materialism does not explain how social media can be used to solve issues of structural inequalities (Lin and Wang 2020). Therefore every theoretical perspective has offered a unique explanation of how social media can be used for promotional purposes. Thus, when the various views are combined, people can easily understand the role of social media in influencing customers’ consumption behaviors and cultural trends.
In conclusion, social media has become prevalent and crucial in our daily lives, so addressing the issues surrounding it is essential. For instance, the paper has outlined some of the contemporary issues like privacy, misinformation, online harassment, and suicide which harm people and society also. It can also be concluded that social media platforms should protect people’s privacy, ensure the information being disseminated is accurate, and address suicide and harassment by taking corrective measures concerning people who post unhealthy and disturbing information on social media platforms. Additionally, the government should implement policies that will address the challenges faced by social media.
Allcott, H., Gentzkow, M. and Yu, C., 2019. Trends in the diffusion of misinformation on social media. Research & Politics, 6(2), p.2053168019848554. (n.d.).
Duffy, B.E. and Chan, N.K., 2019. ‘You never really know who’s looking’: Imagined surveillance across social media platforms. New Media & Society, 21(1), pp.119-138.. (n.d.).
Fan, X., Jiang, X., Deng, N., Dong, X. and Lin, Y., 2021. Does role conflict influence discontinuous usage intentions? Privacy concerns, social media fatigue and self-esteem. Information Technology & People, 34(3), pp.1152-1174. (n.d.).
Hudders, L., De Jans, S. and De Veirman, M., 2021. The commercialization of social media stars: a literature review and conceptual framework on the strategic use of social media influencers. Social Media Influencers in Strategic Communication, pp.24-67. (n.d.).
Lin, X. and Wang, X., 2020. Examining gender differences in people’s information-sharing decisions on social networking sites. International Journal of Information Management, 50, pp.45-56. (n.d.).
Olanrewaju, A.S.T., Hossain, M.A., Whiteside, N. and Mercieca, P., 2020. Social media and entrepreneurship research: A literature review. International Journal of Information Management, 50, pp.90-110. (n.d.).
Pourmand, A., Roberson, J., Caggiula, A., Monsalve, N., Rahimi, M. and Torres-Llenza, V., 2019. Social media and suicide: a review of technology-based epidemiology and risk assessment. Telemedicine and e-Health, 25(10), pp.880-888. (n.d.).
Schoenebeck, S., Scott, C.F., Hurley, E.G., Chang, T. and Selkie, E., 2021. Youth trust in social media companies and expectations of justice: Accountability and repair after online harassment. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 5(CSCW1), pp.1-18. (n.d.).
Vogels, E.A., 2021. The state of online harassment. Pew Research Center, 13, p.625. (n.d.).
Vrontis, D., Makrides, A., Christofi, M. and Thrassou, A., 2021. Social media influencer marketing: A systematic review, integrative framework and future research agenda. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 45(4), pp.617-644. (n.d.).
Weinstein, E., Kleiman, E.M., Franz, P.J., Joyce, V.W., Nash, C.C., Buonopane, R.J. and Nock, M.K., 2021. Positive and negative uses of social media among adolescents hospitalized for suicidal behavior. Journal of Adolescence, 87, pp.63-73. (n.d.).
Wu, L., Morstatter, F., Carley, K.M. and Liu, H., 2019. Misinformation in social media: definition, manipulation, and detection. ACM SIGKDD explorations newsletter, 21(2), pp.80-90. (n.d.).