Social media is a combination of human interaction through web applications where people produce their own content, mold their own experience, and define their online presence. A loose definition of social media is that it’s like a country, people gather and interact with massive amounts of people from their area and abroad. It’s really a broad place, both wonderful and terrible depending on your use of it.
That said, there are many people out there (both individuals and groups) that are very adept at misusing the powers of social media. Read on and be one of the people who understand just how terrible things can be if social media is misused. I am no social media “expert” and probably never will be, most of what I am to say is derived from my own experience of being a netizen. By all means please criticize!
What’s at Stake?
1. Your soul
If you have a huge audience and you make one little blunder, people will strike you with their pitchforks.
2. Your integrity
Huge claims, especially in public, can easily be cross-examined.
3. Your job
People have lost their jobs because of a single tweet!
4. Your future
People remember. What you share now with people can haunt you several years from now. I know because I’ve been a victim of my own foolishness.
In Business Marketing
Many businesses, both online and offline, have engaged in using Social Media for more exposure. This is a delight to marketers since the audience they want is crammed up in a few places: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others. The problem? Many fail to realize that what people engaged in Social Media do is talk to people, who in turn, actually converse with them too. Not just one-way communication. This is where marketers fail, they set up their Social Media accounts and simply post their updates there and don’t mind their fans or followers. “What? You’re shouting something? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of how awesome I am!”
Some shady marketers would resort to spamming Twitter and other networking sites. What’s worse is there are websites that you need to “like” before they grant you access to their content. $%#&^!!
I’ve been a Twitter user for almost 2 years now and since I’ve been one, I have received mentions with links to some shady websites. “Hey, @ueharataichou you should check this!” and being innocent I always clicked.
Give me a name of a person who spends several hours a week on social networking sites and I can probably make you believe that I’m a psychic. Always keep in mind that whatever you do online, you are shaping your online persona – of how people understand who you are. Often, people would share snippets of their personal lives on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Reddit (which has a more personal touch that is available to the public) and online forums. Why is this dangerous? People can easily identify where you live, what your preferences are, how you talk, who your friends are, and things that you thought would not hurt you by sharing it with the world. Two words: identity theft. Because social media is all about human interaction, every time you engage in it you’re leaving an impression of yourself with other people.
Now, what will follow is a personal qualm. It is absolutely okay to post photos, but not to the point where you’re damn near selling yourself. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen people post photos that are quite controversial, albums with over 200 photos of skimpy clothing. Not a model nor some star, just looking for likes. What for? </killmenow>
The good thing about anonymity over the internet is that you can tell people what you’re thinking without any reservation. The bad thing is, people are overusing it to the point where it is no longer welcomed by the society.
Pre-internet boom, con artists would study the person they’d want to impersonate and social engineer their friends or colleagues. I’ve watch a movie about Kevin Mitnick, one of the most notorious hackers turned security expert, about how he used social engineering to gain access to a company’s computer network. With enough confidence and knowledge of the person you are impersonating, you can gain more insights from other people. Dangerous, very dangerous, that’s why always keep in mind what you share.
Last year, my friends asked for my help because someone from Facebook was impersonating their friends. Reposting their photos, telling the world about their personal lives, plus posting unacceptable words online. This happened on three different occasions. One time, a high school teacher of mine was victimized by a certain group. Lesson? Be wary of who you add and mind your security/privacy settings.
Twitter, on the other hand, allows parody accounts as long as you tell the public that it’s a parody account.
During my last year in college, my friends and I were hired as interns in a web development company. Weeks have passed and the only task one of our friends did was to encode data, way off her job description. She asked the management why and was told that it’s just temporary while they fix things up. Nothing happened. Being young and stupid, we didn’t have the guts to make further comments in the workplace. What our friend did was to post her rants on Twitter, her tweets were only seen by confirmed followers. And the worst happened, a not-so-close friend of ours sold her out. Totally unnecessary because this woman who betrayed our trust only gained negative respect.
What does this tell us?
1. Be careful of what you post online.
2. Mind your own business.
Because if you do not, you’ll be messing with your life and the life of someone elses.
Compared to the people getting fired for their Facebook posts my story is nothing. But it gives you a clear view of how a simple tweet/post can lead to a disaster.
Maybe many users are over-saturated by the awesomeness of today’s technology that they tend to forget it’s not a game, but reality. People will say things they do not really mean, businesses will bombard their customers with unwarranted links, and the social media world will be overcrowded by confused people. Let us not do this.
Be always calm and collected. Always keep in mind that people tend to misunderstand lines of text because they don’t have accents and emotions.
I know, I know that there are some wild reactions out there. Again, I’m no expert. I’m merely telling you what I have observed and experienced firsthand. You have more to say? Let’s talk about it!
Rean concurrently served as the Head of Operations and Editor-in-Chief of 1stwebdesigner from 2011 up until Aug 2014. He regularly writes about freelancing, technology, web design, and web development with a little touch of internet marketing here and there.