As the overall use of the Internet has increased, so has the number of people who use social media sites. In fact, social media has become one of the most widely used ways for people to share information with one another. As of mid 2012, Facebook has approximately 901 million users and Twitter has approximately 555 million. Along with these powerhouses, there are numerous other sites like Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr that are growing. With that being said, let’s discuss some details about social media and its associated benefits and risks.
In the past, people were relegated to a limited means of communication. For example, most communication was done via telephone and email. Even when social media websites like Myspace first popped up, there weren’t all that many initial users. However, as Facebook and Twitter gained in popularity, more and more people created accounts on these websites. Now in 2012, millions of people log in to these websites on a daily basis and utilize the interactive web design to communicate with others all over the world. Along with everyday users, the majority of businesses now utilize social media to interact with their customer base and to acquire new customers.
Accordingly, this makes social media extremely powerful. Not only can users communicate with people in their home town, they can communicate with people all over the world. Thanks to the easy to use web design of most social media sites, even inexperienced users can quickly figure out how to navigate their way online. Due to the global network of users, it also expedites the process of information exchange. For example, during the Euro 2012, the Irish fan James Nolan drown in Poland while he was supporting the Irish team. Rather than taking weeks or months for the news to spread through Ireland, Poland and the rest of the world, it only took 2 days because of social media.
Consequently, the rapid rate at which information can be exchanged is one of the biggest benefits of social media. It’s also advantageous because of the ease and efficiency of exchanging information. Rather than having to notify numerous people individually, an individual can simply post on a site like Facebook or Twitter and those people can easily gain access to the information. Along with this, it’s an extremely cost effective marketing platform for businesses both large and small and makes it possible to effectively brand a business.
In terms of risks, there are a few things that social media users should be careful of. One of which is phishing attacks where users are tricked into giving sensitive information like passwords. Another issue is malware where apps are used to spread harmful viruses that can damage a user’s computer. Besides this, a person’s privacy can become jeopardized when information is unknowingly shared with others. To minimize these threats, it’s smart to fine tune one’s security settings and be weary of giving excess information.
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