The fast development of mobile technology has played a key role in shaping the impact of social media, particularly due to the speed and scale at which it’s used to interact and share information. According to the 2015 KPCB Internet Trends report, the use of mobile phones for accessing digital media is higher than the use of computers and laptops. The statistic shows that North America has the highest social network penetration rate in the world. In the United States, 81 percent of the population had a social media profile. This means that there were around 207 million social network users in the country in 2016. Young adults were among the earliest social media adopters and continue to use these social media at high levels, but usage by older adults has also increased.
Facebook is the most widely used one amongst the major social media platforms, and its user base is most broadly representative of the population as a whole. Smaller shares of Americans use sites such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.
There are so many reasons why people use social media: to seek out information and interact with others; to learn about new products; to increase teacher-student communication; to the increase in long-distance online learning ; to support a cause or issues they feel strongly about; to participate and feel involved in things happening in the world; to interact, grow, get a sense of fulfillment, nurture relationships and stay in touch with others; uses social sharing to build image and demonstrate who they are and what they stand for. Teenagers constantly use platforms social media to spread rumors, share videos aimed at destroying a reputation and to blackmail others. Without social media; social, ethical, environmental and political ills would have minimal visibility. Increased visibility of issues has shifted the balance of power from the hands of a few to the masses. For example, professional social networks such as LinkedIn are important platforms for anyone looking for a way to stand out and get noticed in any profession.
However, Antagonists of social media activism argue that social sharing has encouraged people to use computers and mobile phones to express their concerns on societal issues without actually having to engage actively with campaigns in real life. Stalking, identity theft, personal attacks, misuse of information are some of the threats social media users face. Most of the times, the users themselves are to blame as they end up sharing content that should not be put in the public eye. There’s also an element of ignorance involved arising from a lack of understanding of what private and public profiles are supposed to do. Unfortunately, by the time private content is deleted, it’s usually a little too late and can cause problems in people’s personal and professional lives.
Source: Survey conducted March 7-April 4, 2016.