Is social media changing us?

We are well aware of the Facebook analytical scandal that took place in the 2015 presidential election. A few years later WhatsApp released a privacy policy update that led to a worldwide controversy. Social media and mass media can affect people’s behavior and influence their thinking. The above-mentioned scenarios are critical examples to measure how much influence social media can be in the present society.

With billions of users using social media worldwide, information sharing has never been faster. But such powerful technology in the palms of so many people can certainly have a lot of influence on the individuals of the society.  Social media’s impact on society has grown in the past couple of years. Thanks to the internet people have found a solution to loneliness as the means of social media platforms. Users can meet new people via social media and engage using memes and publications. With the new Social media for business trend, the businessman has a larger audience to promote their brand to. 

Unsurprisingly certain individuals and parties have used these platforms to manipulate users in society, to tell them what to think and change their opinion on certain subjects. Facebook and WhatsApp have been prime candidates in recent incidents of social media influence. Facebook influenced the 2015 presidential election in which Donald Trump emerged victoriously. Facebook sold the personal data of millions of users to a British firm that promoted Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to influence neutral users to vote for him. This infamous Cambridge Analytical scandal created a series of false claims and public unrest in the political world. As recently as last year WhatsApp was accused of a privacy breach after they released a privacy policy update that would allow WhatsApp to share personal data with its parent company Facebook. This resulted in millions of users boycotting WhatsApp and switching to competitive applications such as signal and telegram. 

The above-mentioned examples show that social media can have both a positive and negative impact on society. Living in an era that has unlimited access to information there is a high chance that you can get manipulated by false information. But on the other hand, social media can be used to create awareness of certain issues or problems that arise in society. Information is a powerful tool and with the development of social media platforms, users have the ability to share, gather and even create content using these platforms. So, it’s the user’s responsibility to utilize social media for the greater good and be responsible and considerate about the content or information they share. 

-Umar Inthikab