Almost everyone has used social media at some point in their lives. Most of us use it every single day. Some are addicted to it. Many social media companies have popped up since the 1990s. The idea of a society that exists not physically but inside the internet was a huge step towards newer technologies such as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Social media was a new reality where anything seemed possible from discovering your old friends to debating about many social and political topics with people you never met in your life to learning new stuff from many different sources to starting digital movements that would change our society.
Information spreads fast. This is especially true with social media. With billions of gigabytes at one’s fingertips, one can choose to share it. But, the huge stream of information one encounters on social media platforms is one of the main problems of social media. This is because not all information is good and true. In fact, false information is more on social media. Many companies such as Facebook employ many people to look out for and remove false, inappropriate information from their social media platforms. Some also use artificial intelligent bots to sniff out such information. But, it is not very efficient as the influx of data is not controllable. Every second, millions of bytes of data gets passed around the internet, and it is humanly impossible to detect bad information. Hence, there have been many controversies regarding the censorship of social media.
In Sri Lanka, due to the false news spread on Facebook, many riots, involving bloodshed tore the country apart. This is because the information spread was too large to control and Facebook couldn’t do much about it. Also, people tend to trust what they believe and due to the mischief of certain individuals, the whole country was at a loss and many people got injured and died. Signs of hate crimes can be observed in social media platforms and it is important that these opinions not propagate as this will surely result in mass outrage and lead to riots. Social media giants like Facebook are taking many steps to ensure that only true information spreads in their platforms. This is not where we are at present but soon, we might have social media that do not encourage hate speech and engagement of the masses.
Even with many problems, social media is still very helpful for modern humans and it has become an integral part of many people’s lives. People can share information, they can talk to distant friends and family members, see their pictures and keep in touch with the people they love. This is a very important thing as social media provides the platform for anyone to speak out. Any opinion can be said and any problem can have the stage to be shown. Many social media campaigns have resulted in changes in the real world. The MeToo movement is the perfect example as many harassers came to light by their victims who now had a platform to share their experiences. This meant even the most powerful of people had been exposed. Such is the power of social media and with all its faults, it is a crucial part of modern life.