SOCIAL MEDIA: GRADUALLY CHANGING THE WORLD

Amongst the more unscrupulous, social media provides an easy outlet for creating drama and chaos. It has become a thrilling playground for those people wishing to exploit others. Fortunately these social media predators are in the minority, and on the flip side of the coin there are a vast number of people who gain numerous benefits from it.

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Many students benefit from social media, such as sharing thoughts, homework, group pictures and holiday photos. Communication has been made so much easier with the onset of all the different social media networks. It is simple to relay a message to each other just by creating a page, community, group, or posting on your wall. Social media has helped connect people from all around the globe. Imagine how easy it is now to ‘friend’ somebody from the opposite side of the world.

THE DOWNSIDE

Of all the social media networks, Facebook has to be the most utilized. Facebook currently has 800 million active users, and this number has grown daily ever since it was introduced on 4th February 2004. Since its launch there have been several cases of fraud and other inflammatory behaviour. Problems with people posting indecent photos on other users accounts, or hacking into accounts and notifying friends that he/she just died. These are just some of the disadvantages of social media. It is open to abuse by those who derive pleasure from its misuse.

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THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Arguably one of social media’s greatest contributions to the world is the vital part it has played in liberating and uniting the people in the Middle East. Social media helped to educate and inform them. It gave them the ability to amass huge crowds of protesters in one place within a very short period of time. To reach out to their fellow countrymen and appeal for support, and provide the voice that gave them the strength and courage they needed to rise up and fight for liberation from tyranny. Without its help, there is little doubt that the Middle East uprising could not have succeeded. Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali would still be in power in Tunisia after 23 years. Hosni Mubarak would still have complete control of Egypt after 29 years, and Muammar Gaddafi would still be alive and abusing both power and human rights after 43 years. Because of the ease with which this new platform of communication provides, people are far more interconnected than they have ever been before, and it is this ability to be able to rally a whole country that surely must be a worry for any government.

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SOCIAL MEDIA IN CHINA

Last July 2011, I visited Beijing. Facebook has long been banned in China. As a person who lives with social media all around me, it felt strange not logging onto Facebook for a whole week. I felt disconnected from the world. What are the reasons for the government of China blocking Facebook and some other social media networks? This is a country well known for its human rights abuse. The Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989 provided blatant proof that any social rebellion would not be tolerated. It is therefore not to difficult to imagine how nervous the Chinese authorities would be if they allowed to much access to social media networks.

CONCLUSION

There is no denying the power of social media; it is immense if we know how to use it. There are those who are critical of the amount of time people spend on it. To me it is not squandering my time. It permits us to study from each other, to construct relationships and maintain them. It can be viewed as an educational pastime. It allows us to connect with all sorts of people from different backgrounds and beliefs. And through simple communication with each other our understanding and attitudes improve.



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