Social and Economic Impact of Social Media: US and the World Malcolm X once said, “The media’s the most powerful entity on earth…because it controls the masses.” Though his reference was to mainstream media, his famous quote is applicable to social media, which was non-existent at the time. As the popularity of social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter continue to increase, social media has become the most preferable means of communication for writers, bloggers, and politicians, among others. The power of social media to control the masses comes with both positive and negative effects. This essay looks at the impact of social media on social and economic issues in the US and the world.
Social media has brought a new idea in networking where people with similar interests or from similar backgrounds and cultures can connect and share in expertise, knowledge, education, and entertainment, among other aspects. Through sharing of articles, blogs, pictures, and videos, a person’s audience helps to increase their networks and followers, meet friends and make new acquaintances online; not only locally but also worldwide. In addition, social media has eliminated many communication barriers enabling people to interact and freely share information about various topics of interest. Thus, students are able to communicate with experts in various topics and enhance their learning while music fans are able to connect with celebrities like African American rappers and jazz singers, and even buy their music online.
Moreover, social media has impacted greatly on social issues such as racism, discrimination, and equality. The outcry of the oppressed can be heard across the world through social networks where issues like police brutality against black youth are decried and exposed on social media. The great power of social media was seen in the Arab world during the Arab spring where social networks were used to mobilize the masses to demand for regime change. The same power can be harnessed by the oppressed in any nation around the world to influence change. Therefore, social media provides a platform for any group, especially minority groups like African Americans, to unite and drive its agenda.
From an economic perspective, social media helps drive the economy through ease of advertising where a large customer base is reached effectively in a short time. Companies find new customers through advertising on social networks and thereby increase the awareness of their brand including those that celebrate and express particular cultures. In addition, social media has changed market research since businesses can study their customers through the details on their profiles as opposed to traditional research. Information is shared online with little or no spending, which helps improve profits for companies. This does not only occur locally but also internationally where global economic activity has become possible with social media sites like Facebook aiding businesses to promote their products and align them to specific customer needs.
However, social media has some negative effects such as cyber bullying and harassment, reduced productivity, and threat to privacy. Cyber bullying entails online attacks including insults and threats. Women, girls, and school children can become victims of online harassment and bullying. In addition, social media affects productivity as it distracts employees from work. This can lead to loss of billions due to reduced productivity. Furthermore, social media can lead to identity theft and stalking when a user fails to protect their privacy. It is difficult to maintain privacy online and any negative post could have enduring risk on the user.
The positive effects of social media on social and economic issues can be inferred as more than the negative effects. They include enhanced socialization and economic progress with networking helping to increase the number of one’s clients and friends while also providing a platform for celebrating and enhancing one’s culture. Nonetheless, despite these impacts being relevant at the national as well as the global level, social media also has some negative effects including cyber bullying and online harassment, reduced productivity, and privacy infringement, among others.