Are you a facebook addict?

An average user of facebook spends an hour everyday on the site. That’s a lot of time on a single website considering the many researches recently into how sleep deprivation is affecting many millennials and has evolved into a chronic health issue.

According to this Harvard Business Review study, there is a clear linkage between FB usage and your state of emotional well being. Apparently the more you use FB, the more worse you feel. However, this article does not seek to discuss the mental health issues associated with FB usage but direct real world effects or rather side effects of the usage of the social media giant.

I read this horrifying article recently on CNN where a child bride was auctioned off on facebook for 500 cows, three cars and $10k in cash. Setting aside the disgusting spectacle of a father selling his own minor daughter for dowry to the highest bidder, this news item made me reflect on how far the social media channel is used for immoral, unethical or outright illegal acts in the recent times.

Facebook is now being actively used by far right activists across the globe for spreading falsehoods (or in Donald Trump’s immortal words “Fake News”), for building hysteria and spewing hatred against people of colour and different ethnicities and  more recently, for inciting violence against the Rohingya community in Myanmar. This is a far cry from the plaudits that the networking site earned in 2011 as a catalyst of the Arab Spring and a vehicle for free expression of views and for spreading democracy across the world.

So what happened?

It seems that as the world netizens became ever more entwined and interconnected on the social media behemoth, the most radical and the most repressive ideological outfits & regimes wised up as to how FB can be used as a tool to further their goals given the absence of a filter that usually comes with regular media organizations such as news organizations. As people spend more and more time on the social network, their views continue to be shaped by the flood of information and fake news that appears in their News Feed every day in the portal. Unfortunately its a fact that the more incendiary a FB post is (which has more chances of spreading bigotry and fake news), the more  the attention it attracts on the site and the more it appears in the News Feed  of a huge selection of the populace due to the way the algorithms work according to this article.

Facebook has already received serious judicial, congressional and legal scrutiny on the infamous role its media platform played in spreading fake news in the 2016 presidential elections in the US and incorrectly shaping the views of the voting public in the run up to the elections. Elsewhere, children and teenagers are spending more and more time on the network enamoured by the social connect it bestows attracting the attention (sometimes) of pedophiles, kidnappers and other social vermin.

Given the clear evidence as discussed above of the social, mental and real world perils of the improper and excessive use of the social media platform, is unplugging from the platform the only way ahead? Not necessarily.

The networking site continues to be an important connector of people across different parts of the world and of promoting bigger people to people contacts (though it’s to be admitted that the HBR study suggests that more time on FB reduces face-to-face human interaction) and is an unavoidable part of the online presence of the virtual world. What is needed however, is a moderation of the usage of the site, placing limits on the sharing of intimate personal details that makes one vulnerable to online (and even real world) attacks and a healthy skepticism of any purported news that’s being shared in the sites. News organizations with their vigourous attention to fact checking and best reporting practices are always a better alternative as sources of social, economic and political news.

6 Replies to “Are you a facebook addict?”

  1. Facebook is a virtual world and not the real one after all. While I find as a writer its a great way to publicise one’s work and connect with other authors and readers, there is also a flip side. Getting deeper into this make believe world and envying others whose life seems perfect while in reality it may or may not be so. Its best to use it in moderation. I have been getting too many friend requests from people I don’t even know, like bloggers or those in my apartment who don’t even talk, I have no qualms in rejecting them as I would prefer to keep my world small. An insightful article Lav

    1. Thanks Aks, exactly. I prefer unknown people to connect with my page or twitter but you make my case perfectly. Thanks for writing in.

  2. Hey did not realize you had written an article. I thought you were sharing a link to the HBR article. Very important article and well written.

    We need to be careful of what we share on the net in this day and age to protect our privacy but it is no less important that we demand that governments and organizations do the same and are held accountable for damages occurring for not doing so.

    You bring up a very important point about using social media for illegal activities. It is also sometimes used to spread panic through rumours causing damage like when people get angry and form a mob to attack some random person because of a social media unverified rumour about them. This is something that needs to be figured out. We all want free speech and but social media has made it complicated. restrictions should never be placed on free speech but social media orginizations should have some rules for their operation.

    The thing is it is in facebook’s interest that people share private information because they capitalize on that for targeted advertising. And actually it is a lot worse that you say. Facebooks targeted advertising can be used in very damaging ways. For example people can create a fake news page that looks real and then share it with a narrowly targeted audience like a trial jury to influence their decision. This was used as a plot line in a TV show called Bull. Although that may be a little far fetched it illustrated quite a scary in principle argument. There should be regulations and restrictions on companies especially like facebook and google, and we too should be careful not to share much on it.

    As of now they just make us agree to their privacy policy whether or not we like it, if we want to use the service. Only governments or international organisations can force them to have stricter privacy policies or shut them down or fine them. Another way to somewhat protect privacy is to use private browsing mode, something not many people are aware of. One should also always log off facebook after using it so it cannot monitor what websites you use.
    Kanika G recently posted…Pun In The SunMy Profile

    1. You make excellent points, Kanika. I am totally in favour of governments making privacy regulations giving people the freedom to guard their privacy…. Or not…. But I don’t think many folks actually realise how they are essentially negating their options by putting a lot of private stuff out in FB for everyone to see. Good point about logging off Facebook.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: