People Better Informed Worse Informed

Introduction

As more people are employing social media, it has been noted that it is gradually becoming one of the primary sources of information across the world. Whilst there are significant advantages that come with receiving prompt access to information using the social media, thus making people better informed, it is also noted that there are disadvantages that are associated with this modern media’s hype, which make people worse informed (Fuchs, 2017). Social media purposing to make people better informed or worse informed has always been a controversial issue, owing to the fact that some people feel that whereas it provides sufficient information for significant purposes, such as learning and diversification of information flow into people’s lives, there is also misinformation in the social media that makes people worse informed (Mao, 2014). This paper purposes to provide an argumentative essay, considering the debatable question as to whether social media makes people better informed or worse informed. In this regard, the paper will first provide ways in which social media makes people be better informed, followed by the ways it makes people worse informed. Thereafter, after considering the arguments, this paper will establish a valid stand regarding whether social media makes people better informed or worse informed. Finally, this paper will have a conclusion, which summarizes its content.

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How social media makes people better informed

Noteworthy, some individuals are addicted to various social media networks, making them stay better informed. Significantly, news outlets, as well as corporations use social media in delivering information to the masses. When information is posted immediately, the public becomes better informed. However much some other issues do cause controversies, it is evident that social media purposes to do more good to people than harm (Mao, 2014).

Owing to the fact that social media constantly connects the global community, news delivery through social media purposes to reach more people faster. In this regard, news outlets use social media in sharing breaking stories, alerts, as well as other important aspects of news to their followers promptly. Significant to note is the fact that when people are made aware of a given situation through social media, they become better informed (Kietzmann et al., 2011). For instance, those working towards securing locations and ensuring safety of individuals can possibly perform their obligations efficiently and timely and this significantly can save a situation.

Although some parents have the belief that social media is detrimental to children, it is obvious that to some extent, it does them good when they have social media accounts. Often, teenagers want to be made aware, and also informed, like adults are. As such, the usage of social media allows them to follow the causes, as well as organizations that they believe in, thus, making them feel some sense of belonging, even when they still have a feeling that they are societal outcasts. It is significant to take note of the fact that increase in teen awareness is vital (Boyd, 2014). In this regard, social media proves to be one of the most significant outlets that can aid in reaching the minds of teens, thus, aiding them to make a difference in their lives. In other words, increasing their awareness implies that they become better informed, thus making them better persons.

It is worth noting that billions of people use various social media networks. In considering the aspect of marketing, social media provides the most cost-effective way of reaching a mass of individuals, including the targeted consumers. Notably, consumers who support a given cause, product, or even service have the chances to be better informed and thus, purpose to share posts provided by major corporations, as well as non-profit organizations, thereby, making more people to be informed (Berger & Milkman, 2012). One of the most significant benefits of online marketing via social media is that when charities are involved, consumers, as well as supporters are informed, and as such, they can be willing to make their contributions. Evidently, making an online contributions could be done from anywhere and using any channel. However, of importance is that social media provides a channel through which the original poster attracts global attention and makes people aware of a significant cause, or a release of a major product. Significantly, this creates a buzz and also aids in drawing attention towards the poster positively (Boyd, 2014).

Social media helps people understand their technological needs

According to statistics, approximately 4.5 billion people do not have the access to the social media (internet), and it is evident that through the social media, complaints can be made, which can reach developers, who may need to understand the technological needs of a particular demographic group. Having been informed through social media, companies could step forward in bringing technology to such underdeveloped areas, in order for them to have a cohesive global connection, which is significant for the future (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Such is an example of a social good through social media. Through social media purposing to make people better informed, developers manage to improve technological works, thus aiding in improving social good whilst connecting families, using VoIP conversations from various localities across the globe, following a disaster, or even tragedy. It is clear that loved ones that live in different countries are often worried about their families and even friends, owing to the fact that their lines of communication are down (Berger & Milkman, 2012). However, social media provides platforms where these issues can be raised and thus, signals can be created, in order to enhance connections to take place and to assist the general public. Moreover, social media would also inform global leaders, and as such, they would be able to reach out their assistance to other countries.

Notably, in an instance where natural disaster strikes, and as such, causes devastation destruction, as an outcome, social media poses as the most significant and ideal mechanism for delivering messages, asking for relief of support. Various social media platforms have hashtags, which are created to assist other internet users to locate certain related stories, thus making them better informed, and consequently, they could show their support towards the individuals who are affected by the natural disaster (Duggan et al., 2015). Significantly, this assists stories, which begin locally to have both national and global attention. That having been said, it is clear that more entities can assist in stepping-up localities, which require assistance, as well as fundraising, in order to assist the affected individuals.

It is evident that drivers across the world are using their smartphones when they are driving. It is noted to be distracting, and as such, safety authorities across the world have adopted the use of social media in delivering significant life-saving information, videos, as well as stories, which assist drivers to keep their eyes locked on the road. Evidently, checking the social media when driving has been noted to be hazardous, and as such, it should be avoided (Couldry, 2012). However, with the intention of the social media strategy, safety authorities have opted to call for independent filmmakers, as well as amateur videographers, to purposely create significant content for drivers, in order for them to be able to rethink about their driving habits. Owing to the fact that much attention has been drawn towards ignoring the usage of mobile phones whilst driving, few crashed have been noted to take place (Duggan et al., 2015). For some individuals, it takes losing a loved one or even a friend for them to realize the significance of the issue. Overall, it is notable that social media has proven to be a vulnerable tool, that assists safety authorities to make drivers be better informed, as it assists them to send safety messages, as well as show photos from serious crashes, which result from distractions of using smartphones. Owing to the fact that these drivers are better informed, social media assists in making a great impact on the practices, as well as attitudes of drivers across the globe (Lenhart et al., 2010).

Social media is noted to make people be better informed through various ways. However, it is evident that it also makes them worse informed in some ways as it exposes users to contents, which have questionable accuracy, and these include conspiracy theories, pseudo-science, and even “fake news.” Evidently, there is much disinformation that is published on social media, which have low-credibility, and whose content often spread easily and also quickly, thereby suggesting that people users in social media networks are bound to manipulation and are worse informed on some issues (Asur & Huberman, 2010). For instance, the following figure shows how misinformation spreads quickly on social media and the example provided is on twitter:

Global Railway versus Air

Research indicates that there are three bias types, which make the ecosystem of social media to be vulnerable to intentional, as well as accidental misinformation, which consequently makes people be worse informed. It is significant for people to identify these biases, in order to protect themselves from external influences, which may be designed to exploit them. Firstly, there is bias in the human brain (Lovejoy & Saxton, 2012). The bias in the brain purposes to process the information, which people encounter every day. The human brain can only deal with quantified information, and as such, too a lot of information can lead to information overload. In addition, it is also noted that there is steep competition in the social media for the users’ limited attention, thus implying that some information often goes viral, despite being of low-quality, and consequently making social media users be worse informed (Zhao et al., 2014).

The second bias is the bias in the society, whereby, when people are connected with their peers, there are social biases, which provide guidance to their selection of various friends, who influence the information that they see from the social media. Research indicates that it is possible determining various political learnings of a given user on Twitter by looking at his or her preferences of friends (Shirky, 2011). It is evident that social media is efficient in disseminating information, whether accurate or not, and especially when they are tied together, and also disconnected from other societal parts. In order to determine how social media makes users to be vulnerable to cases of disinformation, a perfect example is Twitter, which has various fake accounts that share misinformation, which spread more than information provided by real accounts (Kwok & Yu, 2013). This makes social media users be worse informed.

The third group of bias arises from algorithms, which are used in determining what social media users see online. It is evident that these machines are specifically designed to select various relevant content for every individual user (Romero et al., 2011). However, in doing so, the cognitive, as well as users’ social biases are reinforced, thereby making the users much vulnerable to manipulation, to be worse informed. For instance, there are very detailed tools for advertising that are built onto various social media platforms, which allow disinformation campaigners to be able to exploit the confirmation bias through tailoring messages to users who have inclined to believe them, and this makes them worse informed. Moreover, social media platforms often expose their users to less diverse sources, as compared to non-social media platforms such as Wikipedia (Enjolras et al., 2013). Owing to the fact that this affects the entire platform, it is referred to as homogeneity bias.

From the discussions, it can be deduced that social media does not only force users to conduct a research on getting the right information, but it also forces them to gain sufficient information, thus enabling them to come up with the right information regarding what they believe to be true and what they believe not to be true. Xiong et al. (2012) point out that social media acts as a form of entertainment in the present world, and owing to this, it creates a picture in the user’s head, and enables them to have their personal perception regarding information shared. In this regard, Kwak, et al. (2010) agrees with this sentiment and note that creating a personal idea of an information makes a user be better informed, and this is what should happen with many users on social media, as they should not think about what other people are compelling them to think. An advantage of social media in the current media is that people are allowed to speak out on what they believe, and every individual has a voice. This gives social media a broader view relating to controversial topics, and as well as allows individuals to speak out to the public (Smith & Zook, 2012). It then assists other users to be better informed. On the other hand, social media requires that every individual should have the responsibility of comparing sources, and should not only purpose to rely on a single source, which might have low-quality content or misinformation. As such, users should rely on various sources in order to have correct and unbiased facts. Owing to the fact that social media has biases, due to factors such as politics and money, users should be obligated to ensure that they get the correct information.

According to Hensel & Deis (2010), this indicates that social media purposes to make people better informed, even with the fact that there is misinformation, which can be managed by users. The fault is with users, as they fail to do a research, yet they believe what they see posted on social media. In other words, people believe that whatever they see posted on social media is correct. With the false information, most people are wrongly informed, and thus, a bad combination is created with the social media. It is worth noting that social media purposes to spread information, whether it is good or bad (Okazaki & Taylor, 2013). As such, it can be concluded that social media purposes to make people be better informed. However, it is the responsibility of people to ensure that the information they take is correct, for them not to be worse informed.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, it can be noted that social media has significant advantage, which can help people to be better-informed citizens. However, it also has disadvantages, which causes people to be worse informed, by being tricked into believing that false information is correct. In a bid to solving the problems associated with people being better informed, people should be responsible for the social media information that they read, as they should know whatever they are reading. Social media has no way of filtering information that is correct from that that is not correct, owing to the fact that there is too much information. It comes down to the users to figure out what they should or should not believe. The other option that could help curb this problem is having news stations, which report unbiased media. However, due to monetary reasons, that cannot happen. Overall, it is clear that social media purposes to make people be better informed. However, it is the responsibility of people to ensure that the information they take is correct, for them not to be worse informed.

References

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