The Good and Bad Impacts of Social Media on Society

Social media, it seems to have many important both good and bad impacts on society. In this paper, I would like to specifically explore about privacy invasion and safety issues as one of the most important bad effects that social media and virtual communities have on society. Debatin et al. (2009) ‘s “Facebook and Online Privacy” argues that pervasive use of social network sites and technology threatens privacy. Particular privacy concerns are associated with such as exposure of personal information, hacking, a steal of identity, stalking, or spread of gossip/rumors that damage individual’s reputation (Debatin 2009). Many studies show that many severe privacy issues are involved with social network sites, specifically Facebook. Facebook’s “News Feed” allows people to track tons of someone’s personal information and activities such as uploading photos or becoming a friend with someone, and especially hackers take advantage of social network sites to get personal data or secret (Debatin 2009).

In addition, privacy concerns have been raised between Facebook and how the government or other institutions use it, for example, the federal agencies disregard Facebook privacy setting for potential employees’s background check (Debatin 2009).

Debtain (2009) argues that people perceive benefits of SNS outweighed the risks and users were actively aware of the social benefits in their life, in addition, Facebook users are more aware of other’s risks than to their own. Use of social network sites is more problematic because even though the users’ are aware of that their privacy is threatened by social media, they are still willing to take a risk. For instance, over 74% of Facebook users know its privacy options, but only 62% of them use the setting, furthermore, more than 70% of Facebook users posted specific personal information such as their age, gender, picture, hometown, relationship status, educational attainment, birthday, and interest (Debatin 2009). Therefore, Debatin (2009) ‘s study proves the negative impacts on using social media in terms of privacy invasion.

According to Panguelo and Muller (2011)’s “Virtual Crimes, Real Damages”, pervasive use of virtual communities in modern society is problematic in terms of cybercrime because cyberspace constantly becomes a space for cyber spies or thieve to steal personal sensitive information or secret, damages web sites on purpose, launch viruses, and disrupt systems.

Cybercrime refers to any crime that is involved with use of a computer, network or hardware device, and cybercrimes negatively affect not only individuals but also the government and business (Panguelo and Muller 2011). Cybercriminals have individual’s most vital and personal information such as not only health, driving, educational, and criminal records but also professional license and tax information. In addition, virtual communities are often used for cybercriminals to trade other’s personal data such as stolen bank account numbers or share tips for effective email scam through social media such as social network sites.

Nowadays cyber attacks have serious negative impacts on business and the federal government including “economic, foreign espionage, malicious insiders, spamming, phishing, and hacking, with particular focus on the “botnet” form of hacking” (Panguelo and Muller 2011). Cybercrime against business involves with such activities like a steal of intellectual property, hacking bank accounts, and distributing sensitive information etc.

Furthermore, cybercrime against the government is even more problematic because it leads to expose highly confidential information or potentially devastate the nation’s digital infrastructure, furthermore, terrorists use cybercrimes in order to attack the United States (Panguelo and Muller 2011). President Obama said all business and government agencies all need to be ready to counteract with cybercrime as it is one of the most serious economic threats and also it threatens national security in the U.S (Panguelo and Muller 2011).

Anderson (2010)’s “Practicing Safe Internet” investigates concerns related to security issue when it comes to the use of social media. Anderson (2010) points out that individual home computer users are the most vulnerable one in terms of achieving online security because they are not likely to be professionally trained to protect their privacy compared to employees in business or organizations and also individual users do not have a staff who keeps software and hardware for them.

Individual’s security issue can threaten other people’s security, for instance, if a home computer user can spread a virus in his/her friends or families unknowingly through email, and it may damage social reputation (Anderson 2010). Even though social media has many security problems, it is more problematic as Internet is non-excludable good which means that it is impossible to suppress individual’s desire to use Internet because it gives them benefits to them. Anderson (2010)’s research acknowledges that individual computer users show the weak link in cyber security, and this finding emphasizes “the need for socio-technical or behavioral approach to security”. Anderson (2010) demonstrates concerns with respect to cyber security, specifically, this study represents that home computer users are more likely to be subject to involve with security issues.

Even though social media provides many benefits to people, it also has severe negative impacts in terms of privacy invasion, cybercrime, and security issues. As social media becomes very important part of people’s live, we have to be cautious about dark sides of it.

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