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“The media’s the most powerful entity on Earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses” – Malcom X.
Media has become an integral part of mankind’s life. Newspapers were first written in English in 1666 when The London Gazette was written. Newspapers were then first introduced to America in 1690 when Benjamin Harris wrote the Publick Occurrences. For most citizens of London and the new America, these were the only source of news available at the time. Then, in 1920, a new source of media was introduced to the world. Guglielmo Marconi and Reginald Fessenden invented the radio. Because there were different radio stations, news became less biased since previously there was only one newspaper in a community. The world of media changed even more when the television was invented in 1927, and sold to the public in 1934. In 1988, the first form of social media was used as Internet Relay Chats. However, the first name brand social media was not introduced until 1997 when Six Degrees allowed users to create a profile and become friends with other users. In 2003, Myspace was created and expanded on this idea. Video social media was introduced when YouTube was created in 2005. In 2004, Facebook took the social media and revamped it, making it into the juggernaut of the internet today. Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat soon followed suit. These social media websites changed the way our world operates as a whole. They influence politics, entertainment, news, and the way people communicate with each other. While social media definitely has its cons and problems, social media has greatly benefited our society today.
While social networking can cause self-obsession or depression, sites like Facebook and Instagram are helpful because they help keep friends and families connected. Rendler-Kaplan states “social networks began as a means of connecting with friends” (Rendler-Kaplan, 12). Social media website connect us with our friends, family and loved ones. Without social media, we would never get to keep in touch with the people closest to us. People nowadays do not call each other anymore. The whole world revolves around social media, and the world would not be able to function without it. Stated in one article, “Roughly two thirds (67%) of social media users say that staying in touch with current friends and family members is a major reason they use social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace or LinkedIn; about half say they use these sites to reconnect with old friends” (Heimlich). Without social media, most people would not go to live far from their families. Out of state, or even out of country job opportunities would be declined, no matter how much money is offered. If one left the state their family is from, they would almost certainly not hear from them again until the holidays. But with social media, you can chat with your long distance family member thousands of miles away. Again, a world without social media would be a world without loved ones. People would not see their friends and families for long periods of time. However, with social media, families are easily connected with each other. These studies are also a lot higher than similar numbers for users ages 50 and older, although a relatively large number of older people do point to keeping up with loved ones as a major reason for their social media website usage. However, some people may say that social media can lead to self-obsession and depression. One study states “But such ‘social comparisons’ may be linked with a higher likelihood of having depression. That’s one finding from a new study that identified a total of five social media behaviors linked with the mental health condition” Comparing yourself to the “perfect” models and other celebrities can be very damaging. People who compare themselves to others they considered ‘better off than me.’ These people are at the top of a survey of social media addiction which included options such as ‘You have tried to cut down on the use of social media without success,’ and ‘You use social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies’.These young adults also say their self esteem took a hit when tagged in an unflattering photo on social media. While this is a very good point, however, this does not mean social media as a whole is a terrible place. While sites can have self-deprecating point of views, if used right, social media is a relatively positive place. When one follows friends and family, most of the time most of the result of positivity. In my own personal experience, when I see posts from my family on Instagram, it is usually cute babies or dogs, smiling faces, or awesome vacation spots. While one may feel hatred or jealousy towards these types of things, most people feel positivity by staying connected with their friends and families.
While it can be used for crimes, social media sites are positive as they help small businesses start up and grow. In my experience with the business side of Instagram, it has helped my friends’ and mine business flourish. Our business, 4-Low Offroad, has over five hundred followers on Instagram has has sold well over $500 worth of merchandise. As one Forbes article states, “With such penetration, its significance to society cannot be ignored — especially in the marketing world. The reach and influence of social media is a treasure in the business and trade industries, where the need to engage and persuade the market is of top priority. With the slow death of print and radio, social media has taken over as one of the leading channels for marketing and advertising” (Shaw). Billions of people use social media everyday. There is a market for almost every niche, hobby, and brand that can possibly be created. Revenue is also increased through using social media sites. One article states “The most obvious opportunity is to generate revenue. This can be done through building a community or advertising your products or services within the social media platform. If you choose to advertise in social media, the ads can either link back to your business’ social media page or sometimes to your website. This can mean that you’re able to benefit from social media without needing to have a channel” (Williams).
Social media has businesses booming in the modern age. Every company has an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat. The easiest way to start up small business is through social media websites now. Businesses now see revenue they would have never seen if not for social media. Almost all new businesses you see nowadays got big because of their social media presence. The main aspect of business is the amount of money that can be brought in. When the ability to reach hundreds of thousands of people everyday is available, the amount of money that is able to be brought in is wild. However, some may say social media can be used for various crimes such as fraud. One articles states that “In addition, ‘old’ crimes such as harassment and threats, as well as fraud and identity theft, have been conducted in new ways through social media. Social media is also changing the nature of post-crime behaviour. So-called performance crimes – where offenders boast about their criminal behaviour to their friends and followers online – are increasingly common” (McGovern).
The main impact of social media performances on law enforcement has been to enhance and extend surveillance. Social media provide access to the behind the scenes evidence, photos, and filmed videos of millions of people, most of it freely provided this day and age is an era of unbelievable self-surveillance. The historical regulation that a person must be under suspicion to be brought under surveillance has faded, and broadly targeted, automatic, continuous surveillance is the norm. However, while crime may be prevalent on social media, there is not actually that much. One study finds that “the BPD reflect a growing trend in law enforcement called social media mining. Using natural language processing tools, police departments scan social platforms for keywords they believe indicate danger” (Bousquet). Police departments, a business, are using social media to track down criminals and terrorists, trying to take them off the streets. police departments have quietly continued to employ social media mining, partnering with a number of startups. While Facebook and Instagram announced in 2017 that they were banning developers from using their data for surveillance, privacy advocates suspect police departments maintained access to these data streams via third parties that didn’t advertise their surveillance intentions to social media companies. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, however, Facebook made it more difficult for anyone to access the back-end data that law enforcement has relied on for social mining.
Social media is a way to connect to the world and know what’s going on. It can be used as a tool to harm, but it does more good than bad to those who use it. Social media can be used for news, to influence many around the world, and to connect friends and family. It’s something that everyone has and everyone’s information is on the information. There’s some negatives about social media but the positives outweigh them. Without social media, one may not be able be able to talk to their family effectively again.
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