Because Facebook is both the contemporary principle social media and a very news-worthy place, it’s always in the news. It always matters to shareholders, users, advertisers or followers of fashion. It also matters to British taxpayers, too.
We at MBF Blogs have covered it from a range of angles.
However, now comes contradictory stories which will have observers smiling in bemusement and scratching heads in puzzlement.
The Good News
A survey published in the Journal of Consumer Research suggests that social networking sites have a profound influence on people’s behaviour.
In particular, positive self-esteem and well being seem to be reinforced by use of the sites. People have their values affirmed by many ‘friends’, feel empowered to share events, views and images instantly.
Image is vital, and people who post and share on social media, allegedly acquire a self-worth through the habit.
The Bad News
However, it is this very sense of momentary, transitory value that leads to loss of self-control. Areas particularly affected in the study included what people eat, their mental persistence and how much money they spent without proper thought.
The amount of time people spend talking online equates to increases in body mass indices and the amount of debt they build up.
The researchers expressed concern that as adolescents and young adults were most likely to be devotees of social media, given that ‘self-control is important for maintaining social order and personal well-being’, social media could have a profound societal impact.
More Bad News
A woman in Blackburn was tried and convicted in December 2011 for causing grievous bodily harm and got four and a half years. It since emerged that Emma Mitchell (30) had 22 mutual friends on Facebook with a member of the jury.
Now the Criminal Cases Review Commission is investigating what the juror knew about the defendant and online comments she posted about her court duties.
When social media interrupts the smooth proceedings of criminal justice, is it time to impose restrictions on all social media? On the internet itself? At least during trial proceedings?
News That Is Both Bad and Good
Facebook-owned photo-sharing website Instagram was forced to rewrite all its terms and conditions after changing them without consultation and virtually no notice.
Instagram-Facebook suddenly demanded the ‘perpetual’ right to use members’ uploaded images for any commercial purpose that Instagram wanted.
There was an immediate outcry from outraged users, quite predictably. Equally so was the dismissal of all fears as ‘groundless’ by Chief Executive Kevin Systrom, as they simply wanted to ‘experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram.’ Mmm, bah humbug comes to mind in response to that.
Many individual users and businesses are quitting the site, refusing to allow their material to be used without permission and for the financial gain of the social media giant, innovative or not.
So, good news that people power fought back against the tyranny of the big company. Bad news that Facebook wanted to get away with that in the first place.
Even More Bad News
One site on the web that specialises in presenting stories from life that reflect at best poorly on Facebook, is ’10 Unbelievable Facebook Stories’.
Recent offerings include a happy US family who found their Christmas card shot appearing on a billboard for a food store in Prague, Czech Republic!
In rampant examples of the obsessive nature of social media, the sites shows couples updating their statuses on Facebook during their wedding ceremonies! There are people who have announced their marriages are over on Facebook, which is the first the spouses have heard of it!
Couples have met via social media and become married. Many have had their pasts come back to destroy both their presents and futures through Facebook. So, it is truly a mixed blessing.
Many benefit cheats have been caught out by posting pictures of themselves on holiday or working or doing sports when they had claimed to be unable to do a thing. These are examples where social media works to the taxpayers’ advantage. However, one woman in Canada had her insurance payments for depression cut because her Facebook photos showed her appearing to be enjoying herself.
Writing on the Newser website last January, Evann Gastaldo said that as Facebook makes people feel bad about themselves, the quickest way to feel better about yourself, your life and your ‘friends’ is to delete your account!
Worth a try? I’d say so.
Have a look at:
Wall St. Cheat Sheet, Instagram Taking Cues from Facebook
Oddee, 10 Unbelievable Facebook Stories
Newser, Evann Gastaldo, Facebook Makes Us Feel Bad About Our Lives, Jan 12
Friends, Favourites, Choices and Other Myths of the Digital Era, 22 October 2012
Does Facebook Have Friends in All the Right Stores? 30 August 2012
Who Actually Owns Your Social Media? 19 June 2012
Facebook: From Frenzy to Fatigue in Record Time, 28 May 2012
Facebook’s Bid for Your Dollars and Your Organs, 7 May 2012
What If Facebook Was a Country and Other Ideas, 3 April 2012
Image: Free Software Foundation (Not Everybody Is On Facebook)