Social Media Exploited

Social media exploited regards online users who claim to be “experts” in digital marketing. The truth is, many only know how to litter and exploit social media platforms. Algorithms are developed all the time to defend these sites from junk and terror. 

The most powerful elements of social media are; marketing, sales, public relations, communication and automation. Many onliners pollute and misuse vast areas of social networking channels. Much of the content or messages circulated are set to benefit an agenda.

We appreciate that marketing is all about spreading commercial awareness and hitting sales targets. But, what we don’t appreciate is our newsfeeds getting littered with bogus news, fake ads and offensive posts. Some academic establishments use social media purely for testing, most of the time it’s unknown to the participator.

There are posts in our news feeds that can do more damage than good. Especially, if it involves social experimentation or the influence of political, economic and financial biases -through controlling public opinion and behaviour.

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Social Media and the Human Brain

Moreover, many aspects of our being have been altered because Social Media (SM) has a profound effect on the human brain. Recent Studies have indicated that frequent users of SM are failing to multitask properly, cannot sustain social interactions and are unable to focus.

brain-and-brain-activiy

Apparently, SM makes us very self-centered, pretentious and turns users into attention seekers.

Video content is trending big time on social media. A recent study indicated that it’s the most disruptive and distracting form of media. Ten years ago the average attention span was 12 minutes.

Thanks to social media and spending long hours on the internet, our young have developed a shorter attention span.

25% forget names or details of their close friends and even relatives. 7% forget their own birthdays time to time, which is quite shocking.

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As for the older more responsible generation, they claimed to have left pots and pan on the stove due to distraction stemmed from using online media.

Social media is a part of our lives. And, there are well planned and creative steps everybody can take to become a success. Furthermore, anyone can join this virtual movement because “Social Media is the media we use to be social.” Lon Safko (2010).

Socialising  and Networking

When you wake up in the morning, it’s rare that you’d go and pick up a newspaper. You’re more likely to grab your iPad or smartphone. Many people prefer to read or watch the news online.

In addition, if you fancy listening to music or watching a video, you can go on channels like YouTube or sign in to your Netflix account and catch a movie. No need for a stereo or television- it can all be sourced from your mobile phone, just like remaining social. Concepts like sharing, liking, commenting drives us to socialise.

We even share information about our profession, major of study, work status, location, political views and share personal pictures.

Although the effects of social media on the human brain is still not a popular research area, there are immense regulations and policies aimed to protect the user. Consequently, these policies do not protect the human brain from seeing other forms of tactical marketing rooted in the same place.

How to Study Social Media

The best way to study digital and virtual platforms (like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn etc) is through varied forms of technical observational methods. By watching closely, we can acknowledge and define the user’s activity which gives us a good insight into their natural life too.

This includes behaviour, movement and interest. Information which is freely available. With this data, we can then distinguish a virtual layer of existence that impacts daily life and your decisions.

Human interaction

Humans like to interact with other humans. It’s in our nature, so it’s not a revelation that we are doing this on a virtual platform too. The Social Media bible (2010) by Lon Safko highlights the fact that: “The story is on the tactics of each of the technologies, all of the tools that are available to us…” in order to connect with customers and prospects as well as learn the different strategies.

For instance, it’s true that you can promote your business or brand globally, in fact to all persons who hold a social media account. That’s roughly 2.1 billion people in the world who is your potential target. And you can do this simply by paying for it or owning the channel.

But, does this suggest that you’ll get the desired outcome? It also begs the question: why would board members or business owners want to target that many people unless there is a bigger motive?

Facebook’s Secret

Take Facebook for example, they conducted an experiment on over half a million of its users. Participants were not aware that they were subjected to it. Facebook secretly manipulated posts being seen by nearly 700,000 users in an experiment that took place in 2012. Facebook approved researchers to study how emotional states are transmitted over the platform.

Manipulating and altering posts, Facebook allowed researchers to show content to certain targeted users. This meant that their news feeds were duped in order to control the number of posts that had words with positively or negatively charged emotions. The researchers disclosed some information into their findings by saying; “emotions spread via contagion through a network.”

Experimentation

emotions spread via contagion through a network

emotions spread via contagion through a network

Most importantly, research is essential when studying and understanding human behaviour, we must also respect the privacy of others in the process. Facebook has received much slack and attack since these secret experiments have transpired.

Thus, the fear is that they will continue to work with big research institutes and other governing bodies without first taking the permission of the users (who will all be blind subjects.)

This Facebook example also demonstrates why some major brands will throw huge amounts of money into social media marketing and target anyone and everyone which research finds deem to manipulate. But this is not how Social Media Marketing should work, it’s ineffective and a waste of money if you choose to do the same thing.

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The reason it’s unethical is simply because some Social Media advertisers or marketers are abusing, misusing and disregarding social media channels as safe and secure portals of human existence.

When social media is misused and exposed to illegal activities or experiments, the effects ripple on a multi-lingual, multi-functional and multi-level which takes place in multiple digital spaces.

It’s about strategic planning and listening, observing and understanding what social media channels are telling us about the movement that lives inside it.  And, if we wish to look into this aspect further through research, we must first ask for the consent of the users.

Social Data

Furthermore, researcher always claim that a blind test is always most truthful or most accurate. This may be correct, but there are ways of experimenting in a blind test that is still effective and doable.

There are plenty of examples of this, whereby researchers have told subjects ahead of time that they may incur a test sometime in the future which means they cannot anticipate when.

Also, spending time to analyse social data and using a sound method to advertise is the best way to achieve value, trust and interest with the user in mind. This an approach most high-end companies are too impatient to acknowledge and too lazy to do themselves. Therefore, they fail to work with the online existence and movement, instead they find ways to expose their online activity to sell a product.

Information technology

To summarise, when a social media user is exposed to an ad, it’s usually because some marketer has paid to reach, target and expose that user and users alike with their message. Using credentials like age, gender, location and interest.

Therefore, this is private information we willingly give away to be able to hold an account. We do this, because as humans be value social networking sites for allowing us to be able to socialise. Yet, we sometimes forget one very simple thing.

There is a way of life, with every living thing. And social networking sites like Facebook, exists because it’s kept alive by human beings and interactions made by their very users. Without human existence there would be no Facebook, nor the information they have accumulated about account holders as a result of their being.

So, for Social Media to exist as a mind controlling tool needs to evaporate. It is no secret that thought control methods employed by Facebook and Google could majorly result in impairing our state of autonomy, inability to think independently and disrupting our beliefs and decisions.

In conclusion, there needs to be some change in social media for it to be safe for us to use. Just food for thought.

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