Social networks have been a topic of discussion with people trying to compare their impacts. The networks which include Facebook, Twitter, whatsup, and LinkedIn offers a platform where people can share messages both audio and vision, including pictures. They are essential tools to use in exchanging information that is helpful to people like dates for a meeting or breaking news. However, people have used them to defame others like distributing nude pictures of their ex-partners. Others have used them to lure young people into sexual habits through the presentation of pornographic photos and videos. Another negative impact of the networks is their vulnerability to being used by fraudsters in seeking funds with the pretense that they are needy. Many people have therefore suffered through the media by losing their money, and even lives once defamed. Despite social media having negative consequences due to misuse by some users, there are positive aspects of social networking.
On one hand, social networks can and have helped many people in society to solve and relieve their psychological and other problems that would lead to depression and even suicide. Most people fear to share their problems with others. Men, for example, will fear to share how they receive beatings from wives and youths will be reluctant to share how stressful they are from the broken relationship among other stories face to face with other people. It is easier to share such stories on social networks because nobody is seeing them. They get support from the group members, and sometimes other people visit them physically out of the shared information. Also, they read similar stories from the same social networks only to find that there is much less. Also, many religious readers engage people on the networks posting encouraging words which have left many people strengthened. In all those ways, it is not easy for a person to get depressed when using the networks.
The social networks act as a community watchdog and whistleblower thereby safeguarding the interest of all people. The networks can solicit the views and report the happenings around the community. They bring information about a topic from all corners of society and make it whole for clarity and power. Most people like politicians take advantage of the diversity and distance between people and therefore commit low-level crimes in different areas which they think that nobody will mind about them. However, with many reports from various places that a specific person did this in the area, the news gets enough credit to warrant for arrest or impeachment. The networks are more than the community policing because they can “see” far. Most people have a habit of posting anything that occurs within them. The national and international media would not consider such small occurrences. However, when the people on the networks see frequent appearing information, they can recognize that there is something wrong.
The networks can and have helped to uncover most scandals that one would assume they are small and exert pressure on the relevant authority to act. Although pressure from the mainstream media has been influential to authorities, the social networks are more because they are actual voices of the affected people. The main press can interview a few, but social media presents views for almost all community members. They have provided a platform where most people, rich and poor can participate. They offer a survey on the magnitude of the problem by looking at the contribution, from who, where and the number of people contributing. Such huge representation makes the authorities to act on the raised issue to prevent it from spreading. Through the sharing on a corruption case of one department on an institution or government, the platforms motivate others also to share what is happening in other departments and therefore uncover the whole scandal in the company or government. The networks, thus, serve as mind openers and motivators to all people to reveal what is happening in their places of work or residence and therefore gather enough force to impact change.
One of the positive aspects of social media, when people use it correctly, is that it provides a cheaper means of getting news. Hardcopy and electronic daily papers and subscribed SMS or email News are costly sources to the majority of people who need the information. Most of the people who seek news live in the villages, far from where the events occur. Also, there is the category of youth in colleges and out of colleges looking for such news to know where to look for jobs or the best places to live in and even sports news. Such groups of people do not have enough resources to subscribe to electronic dailies or buy the hardcopy ones. Social networks are very cheap to subscribe for bundles and one get be online throughout the day and night. Some service providers sometimes offer social networking for free once a person purchases other packages like voice or data use in other purposes like research. Also, some companies and institutions provide the internet for free. Everybody today, with the increase in the supply of smartphones, can access the news at a low cost.
Another positive aspect of social media, when used properly, is the provision of a cheap and effective platform for marketing that also comes with other advantages. The networks are comprising of billions of people across the world. It, therefore, means that a company, individuals and charity organizations can market their product to many at a low cost. A single message can reach several messages. One added advantage of social media marketing is that one does not have to distribute the message in different groups or areas. Once the message is attractive, people share with other diverse groups or like making it visible to more people. Almost all companies today have several social media pages where they keep on marketing their products. It is the first propriety today depending on the nature of the products.
Social networks are also a convenient means of getting news and other information. Most of them like the whatsup, Facebook and Twitter alert a person when there is any new information posted. One does not have to wait until a newspaper, a mail or even gets access to a television to know that there is something which happened. The alerts make a person aware of the news and therefore only engages when there is a need. Newspapers can sometimes post information that an individual does not need to take too much time reading it. Also, a whole tv news segment can go through without identifying anything that can help the audience. Social media like whatsup provides a person with the ability to subscribe or engage with the groups that only offer information they want to hear. For example, a farmer will participate or join farmers group to receive any news or information on farming. Also, one does not have to look for newspapers from the market or look for a tv to get breaking news. Most people and media houses are posting the news immediately they occur, and people can access the information through their smartphones.
The social network is a platform that is open and free to any person to post and read anything. There are no policies in place to control the content and use because it is a recent technological development. Young people are also accessing the sites since they own smartphones. Many people are therefore taking advantage of using it in immoral ways that are destructive to society. However, the network is essential and has positive impacts when used in the right way. People can engage in sending the right messages of job advertisement, news or even raise the alarm for negative issues in society. Social networks, therefore, have a negative and positive impact on society depending on their use.