acebook’s impact: how the social network changed the way we communicate The development of Facebook is amazing and you may wonder why it is so attractive, especially for young people. The old social media, such as telephone and telegram, can only help you maintain a very close relationship with several friends. The connection is easy to lose when the number changes or the family moves out of the town. Thus, it is very exciting when people are able to use Facebook to easily reconnect with a friend they’ve lost touch through names or places they lived.
Facebook emerged at a good time when digital technology gradually matured and people began to enjoy the convenience brought by Internet. On this platform, communication is not confined by time, distance or whether you have met this person or not. The new social media make communication more instant and give a new definition of communication. People realize that messages, comment on others’ pages and like friends’ status are easier way to establish a good relationship with many friends simultaneously.
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Research suggests that social media can catalyze close, supportive, civically engaged relationships. You do not need to figure out body language, do not need to think about the eye contact, even do not need to worry about the tones when you try to chat with friends. Furthermore, the photos and status help start an easygoing conversation and you can stop it easily without embarrassment. “People seem to get bolder when communicating via technology”, said by Professor Dinuzzo at Christopher Newport University psychology department. Besides, Facebook also fuels users’ self-esteem in a certain extent.
You can post any information on your page and your friends will notice the update immediately. Users will be pleasant when their friends compliment the recent posted photos or status since this will make them feel being in the center of attention. It is also an easy way to track down friends and satisfy the curiosity in others’ life. It seems that Facebook turns the social circle into a small town; people can know their neighbors. For many young users, personal popularity is quantified by the number of friends and not being on Facebook means missing out on online social interaction.
More importantly, mobile technology allows users to check Facebook updates on their smartphones at anytime, which has become a popular way to spend waiting time and recreate during workdays. Another function of social media is to share public or personal information. The speed of sharing and interaction becomes amazingly fast through real-time website. And information sharing is more intensive and more interconnected than ever before. Its astonishing spreading speed and scope, openness and disguised identity drive freedom of speech as well as democracy in many regions.
At the beginning of 2011 in the Middle East, Facebook and Twitter became the primary tool to organize protests or spread awareness about revolt during the uprisings “Arab Spring”, began in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Libya, Syria and Yemen quickly. The uprisings changed the political patterns in Middle East and shocked the world with the help of social media. However, imperfect censorship and limited technology make it impossible to ensure the truthfulness, accuracy and quality of information online.
When many users updating their pages, they see friends’ status and broadcasting without evening know it. This may raise rumor and result in chaos. Also in 2011, after Japan nuclear leakage due to earthquake, some person posted on Weibo (Chinese version of Twitter) that the nuclear power plants could contaminate sea salt production and the iodine in salt could help protect people from nuclear radiation. This message spread quickly and resulted in Chinese panic in salt supplier and price hike of salt.
The Department of Health of China had to dispel the rumor many times to appease people. The false information online can have unanticipated impacts on people and cause unnecessary troubles. When we are in the middle of the network transformation and surrounded by so-called “fast-food content” information, it is necessary we have ability to differentiate the rumors and reliable information and be responsible for the shared content to avoid passive influence. Except the public information or opinions, the security of personal information online should also be considered.
Divulgation of important information such as ID number, credit card number and address may lead to identity theft; the reveal of the pictures or locations may increase the probability to be stalked or harassed. The best way for the users is to rely on the proxies for the privacy risks, which may not work very well. Besides, nobody can tell the probability that one friend will republish some personal details of others on the Internet. After the user posts some personal information, there is no plausible way to assign probabilities to possible outcomes. Hence, users need prudence when they post online.
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