Social media isn’t just changing how we communicate; it’s fundamentally changing the way we do business, govern, and interact with society. The pace social media set is one faster than ever. These sites are poised to change the world in new and exciting ways. Some of these changes you can already see happening, while others are likely to come.
Social Media is Becoming Integral to Society.
With the foundation of the professional-oriented site LinkedIn, social media sites are ingraining themselves to the point of necessity. In 2008 most people didn’t have a Facebook page, but just ten years later and it’s more uncommon to not have one. Social media also controls the way information is shared through algorithms that select content based on what the user finds most interesting. While this creates tons of engagement, it can also be used negatively to radicalize specific populations against ideas or other people. Social media sites also tend to serve a niche community suited to each site. For example, Instagram is suited to sharing images and video, while Reddit is making waves as a news and topics aggregator. Other specialized social media sites that exist to serve specific communities are become valuable, too. StockTwits is a great place for investors to speak to like-minded people about a wide variety of financial topics.
It’s Changing How We Respond to Disasters.
Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a common occurrence across the globe. Before social media, it could take days or weeks to know if someone was safe. But now with SafetyCheck on Facebook and Google, users can instantly mark themselves as safe. This kind of instant communication fundamentally changes the way we think about natural disasters and other tragedies.
Social Media Helps Tackle Global Problems.
The Arab Spring was a movement sparked entirely by a Facebook page. It gave a repressed people a means to express themselves outside of government control. This type of communication changes the landscape of a region in many different ways. Global activists are also using social media to tackle more significant problems that the world faces like human rights violations and climate change. Content shared on social media can be used as evidence of wartime atrocities and help hold perpetrators accountable. Social media is also being used to educate and inform the public about climate change when official government sources are denying or scrubbing the information. A society of people can still be exposed to the scientific data that supports the ideas behind climate change without the government expressly admitting that it is a concern.
Social Media Changes our Approach to Health Care.
Social media is also changing the way society approaches health care and public health information. Meetings with doctors can be scheduled through services like Skype to avoid long commute times for someone who is seeing a specialist. The downside to this aspect is that non-experts are given the same platform, and the distinction between the two is not always concrete. The anti-vaxxer movement, in particular, has seen a rise in popularity thanks to insular groups sharing misinformation about vaccinations through social media.