Social Media has been empowering the lives of society for decades. On February 4, 2004, the social media site “Facebook” skyrocketed across the globe as over half of the undergraduate population began creating profiles (Phillips). This site allowed people to create accounts and send friend requests to other users. Today around 2.34 billion percent of people worldwide have a social media account and over one billion people are active on Facebook (U.S. Population with a Social Media Profile 2018). But controversy has sparked as Facebook can be ruining the lives of the people using it.
People using this social media site have spent most of their day using the app. Studies show that the average person checks their Facebook accounts fourteen times each day (Subbaraman). With that being said, studies have repeatedly found that Facebook can harm the emotional well-being of substantial users, especially younger generations. However, a study was conducted, finding that people who clicked on four times as many links as the average person on Facebook reported worse mental health (Levin).
To further explain, Facebook is taking away from in-person social interactions and affecting people’s mental health by guiding them to a negative social comparison. Experts have traced an increase in teen depression in technology usage, which has changed how the concept of friendship is viewed, leaving modern relationships redefined. Society now has the definition that a friend is someone who likes and comments on your posts, rather than someone you see and talk to in real life (The Impact of Facebook on Society).
Social media has also affected how students perceive themselves in their school work. An analysis of the grades and Facebook use of nearly 4000 US students found that the more they used the network to socialize, the poorer their grades tended to be. This survey of over 200 students also found that heavier users of Facebook tend to have lower academic grades, but this doesn’t prove a causal link (Jarrett).
Furthermore, Facebook invades your privacy by using your data, rather than using general data. Facebook keeps records and examines everything you have posted, said, or commented on. Every picture and video that is posted is saved to Facebook’s database along with facial recognition and tags to understand the context. Facebook makes it easy for us to share information about ourselves, not only for our benefit but also for theirs. Powerful tools have been made to categorize this content.
Facebook needs your data to make money from advertising and privacy groups understand this very well. For years, Facebook has settled numerous lawsuits over the invasion of privacy, and its use for advertising purposes. The most recent filing was a class action lawsuit in 2014, which claims that monitoring a user’s activity violates the EU’s tough privacy laws. Facebook seems happy to drag these lawsuits for a year and even settle them rather than a reverse course on their march towards “complete information awareness” about us (Snell).
On a positive note, Facebook is changing the way we think and feel. It is easy to find out like-minded people by seeing their interests, and you can easily connect with them by looking up their wall updates, and interests, and you can connect with them by sending a free message. Facebook also allows you to expand business opportunities with promotions. You can target your audience and advertise through ads and pages. This can also help you gain a better relationship with clients. More benefits include free entertainment. In their free time, individuals can watch videos, see what friends and family are doing in their own lives, and show their memories on their platforms. Facebook is contributing to people’s love lives as well. To connect without the first initial meeting in person, Facebook allows new couples or singles a chance to mingle. You can send messages, video chat, and even talk through the phone in the app itself. Facebook also allows you to observe your partner’s or future partner’s interests, it gives you a great amount of convenience in finding out things about your partner’s hobbies, social life, and ambitions through posts and mutual friends. You can get a glimpse of someone’s social interactions and how they put themselves together based on what they put on Facebook.
Facebook has heard these results and complaints and has added changes to its formatting. Facebook users now have the option to hide posts, snooze users, and take a break from seeing a certain person’s statuses and shares. This gives users better control over their newsfeeds and helps leave a more positive environment. Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, claims “protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits” (Levin).
Zuckerberg has apologized in posts on his social media account saying, “For the ways, my work was used to divide people rather than bring us together, I ask for forgiveness and I will work to do better” (Mark Zuckerberg apologizes for Facebook’s negative effects).
In conclusion, Facebook has many benefits as well as downfalls, but users still tend to enjoy being on the site and app. Facebook has reached out to a wide variety of users from all around the world, creating a large demographic. Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook as a college project but as it progressed it turned into what is now a billion-dollar company. Facebook shows how hard work most definitely does pay off.