Ah, the question of the moment, one that has been bandied around by friends, colleagues and the media: when does social media go too far? For me, this is a two-fold question: is this a case of people using social media for all the wrong reasons, inappropriate Tweets and posts, or is this a deeper, more disturbing issue, of membership to social media sites now allowing for exploitation of the user by these juggernauts of the web?
Firstly, the inappropriate posting; this is a much harder factor to analyse, as everyone’s view on what is and isn’t appropriate varies. One man’s lunch post is another man’s loathsome clogging of their precious Newsfeed. Social media photo site Flickr even has an entire page dedicated to food posts and pictures!
I think one thing we can all agree on being inappropriate is posting pictures and posts from funerals, but how about Death in general? Is it right to post R.I.P statuses on Facebook? Personally, I always feel that doing so trivialises the person in question’s death to just another post, but I can understand the reasoning behind it. A more appropriate action is a simple thank you to anyone who has helped the family and friends of the deceased.
However, one thing that can surely never be right is telling someone about a death over a social media site.
Such a personal message should always be delivered in person, and Social Media is one of the least personal and private mediums, where everyone can see your business.
Now, as for the “Big Brother” issue of Social Media(and in particular Facebook), having looked at Facebook’s Data Use Policy, it is very clear to see exactly how Facebook will use your data to target ads according to your interests and denographics at you, however, it does not appear to be the Boogeyman that the media has sometimes made out. That is not to say Facebook is not guilty of slowly fading out privacy on their site, which can be seen from this series of screencaptures. This practice has earned Facebook some flak in the past, but if anyone was really that bothered about the issue, they simply would have disconnected. Instead, they have been growing over the past 7 years.
On a very serious note, Facebook has been responsible for a number of major world events. Protesters in Egypt organising their rallies over Facebook would likely have had no other method in getting in touch with so many similar minded people, and the philanthropic potential has been shown, albeit slightly misguidedly, with the 2012 “Kony”” campaign.
However, Facebook also has the potential to be a dangerous weapon for those who choose to use it for ill means, such as this horrific tale in Mexico.
Basically, the bottom line is this: social media is what you make of it. I personally don’t think Social Media has gone too far, as it has fantastic benefits available to people. However, I feel the people using Social Media have gone too far, posting very intimate details and using it as a validation tool for their latest break-up or personal problem. The technology is only what you as a person choose to make of it, on its own it sits idle, but the medium is given life by its users, be they food posting socialites, drug dealers, protesters or simply Average Joe.
Social Media has not gone too far, we as a people have.