It’s no secret social media has such a powerful impact on our lives.
Since Myspace and the early days of Facebook, millions set up new profiles to network with their friends and many others across the web.
And it’s not just the young that are on social media…
Older parents, aunties, uncles and even the elderly were jumping on board this social media trend.
Suddenly it became a HUGE part of our lives. Taking us to a stage where social media, and its vulnerabilities to the echo chamber effect and ‘fake news’ became a massive part of the 2016 US presidential election.
The internet knows us better than we know ourselves
Our job, sexual orientation, education, family, location — and much more — can be defined from our Facebook interactions.
With our digital footprint, machines are able to implement our personality within a digital landscape.
Social media is designed to keep us invested and returning on a regular basis.
We all log into Facebook for various reasons.
And the social media giant has been expanding those reasons for years.
These include gaming, networking, keeping up to date on our friends’ lives, and joining and participating in various Facebook groups that hold our interests.
Some of these factors can lead to establishing new friendships and other networking prospects. But many negative effects can potentially take place. Such as celebrity obsession, cyber bullying, and a tendency to only seek out opinions that reinforce your own.
That last problem is perhaps the most important effect that social media is having on the wider world. The ability to find ever more-specific groups to suit your particular beliefs is cutting us off from contrary opinions.
Social media has become a valid platform to assert one’s agenda.
And it’s happening right now. The recent Florida shootings have set off an anti-NRA campaign online.
The #BoycottNRA hashtag is spreading all throughout social media, and has even prompted many companies to cut ties with the NRA. As activists continue to spread their cause across social media platforms, it is entirely possible that many more companies will drop association with the NRA.
This is only the latest social media-driven political campaign. The fact is, politicians of every stripe are increasingly relying on social media not just for marketing, but to broadcast their message, and hear back from the public.
This serves as an example of just how powerful social media has become politically.
Younger generations have grown up in this digital culture, and haven’t known much outside of it. As time passes, the influence of social media in politics will only grow.
Arguably, the individually-driven nature of social media could place more power in the hands of the people, and less in that of lobbyists, party insiders and powerbrokers.
But never forget that the companies behind social media apps and websites have their own agenda. They can control or influence the messages going out on their platforms, and who those messages do or don’t reach. And they’re unlikely to refrain from using that new-found power and influence.
By Nathan Frank