The internet has brought about many changes in the way that people access information, communicate with each other, and build relationships. It is now possible for individuals to talk and discuss with others from all over the world instantaneously – practically without any barriers or restrictions. This has led to the development of social media. These tools and services allow people to share information, pictures, videos, and a host of other things with friends and family around the globe.
Over the past decade, social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have become a huge phenomenon that has engrossed entire societies. There are now billions of people using social media, sending each other messages and building up online communities of shared interests. This rapid expansion has come about largely because of how easy these services are to use. They often come in the form of apps and can be used on a variety of different platforms, including smartphones, tablets and personal computers, giving entire populations the chance to create accounts and interact with each other.
Despite the huge popularity of social media, there are still plenty of things that we don’t know about these interconnected networks that play such a large role in our everyday lives. Some of these unknown facts and statistics are truly shocking, while others are entirely surprising. Whatever the case, there is still plenty to learn about social media that most people just don’t realize.
The past 5 years has seen Twitter become the home of politicians around the world. It is now common for almost every person in Public Office to have their own Twitter account and more than 85% of all UN member countries have a presence on the social network. There are actually 172 Heads of State on the site, including the Pope, the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
It is not just politicians who are involved on Twitter, civil servants and embassy staff are now required to go through social media training. This is because many departments and embassies now have their own social media handles that they may need to be responsible for, posting updates and giving out important information to the public.
Before social media allowed people to ask companies questions or to complain publicly, they had to address their concerns in writing through email or the post. Very few people would expect to get the reply they wanted as there was little benefit to a brand to do so as no one would know whether they had or not. The public nature of networks such as Facebook and Twitter now means that more and more organizations are launching their own profiles so that they can communicate with consumers.
However, that doesn’t mean that they are as forthcoming as you might expect. Up to a quarter of companies who have profiles don’t allow comments to be posted on them while a massive 70% of all inquiries are ignored, preventing fans from getting answers or from having problems solved.
There is an ever-growing number of social media accounts that are being left abandoned by their owners when they pass away. This is an obvious problem when you think about it. There are billions of people who are members of sites such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, and tens of thousands of people die every single day – so at least a good number of those must have accounts that will no longer be updated.
Fortunately, many services have systems in place to deal with such situations in case they ever do occur. Most will allow close family members to deactivate profiles or put them into a memorial status by contacting the support team. This can stop unnecessary hassle and distress that might occur if an account is still being tagged in posts after the owner had died.
Addiction to social media is essentially a more focused version of the internet addiction disorder, which sees people spending excessive amounts of time on computers, smartphones and video game consoles. This is itself a part of the broader technology addiction phenomena that has captured the obsessions of people with inventions such as the radio and television. While using computers or other gadgets to access social media isn’t a problem in of itself, it can lead to other issues if it has a negative effect on real-world activities.
Some common symptoms for those suffering from social media addiction involve having a high tolerance for using many different sites, getting withdrawal effects – such as distress and anxiety – when they can’t access services, and a reduction in normal social activities. The problem is so bad that it has been compared to gambling addictions.
As anyone who has ever used social media services will know, people like taking pictures of their food. Images of meals make up a huge proportion of the posts on Facebook, while users are also often inclined to upload their photographs onto sites such as Instagram or sharing them through apps such as Snapchat – all so that the rest of the world can see what they are eating.
It is little wonder then that plenty of studies have been carried out to determine what is the most discussed and shared food on the internet. It turns out the popularity of dishes changes according to the country, with burgers being particularly liked in the UK and Sushi being the most popular in Japan. However, the most talked about food on social media is pizza, with pictures of the circular dish becoming one of the biggest trends.
Many people will have played games or apps on Facebook, yet few actually go onto spend money on them. As little as 2% of all active users on Facebook and similar sites purchase virtual goods on games, yet spending is at more than $2 billion. This means that those who do go on to use real-world money to buy in-game items are spending on average around $100 every single year.
The fact that people are willing to spend so much cash on virtual goods shouldn’t be that surprising. Smartphone games and apps have become a huge industry over the past few years, able to bring in huge amounts of money from people spending to unlock extra content or items. Last year alone, consumers spent a record $16 billion on mobile apps and the number is set to rise in the future.
The very nature of the internet means that it has provided people with new opportunities to meet more people and find other individuals with similar interests to their own with greater ease. This is clear from online dating websites and apps, such as Tinder, that are available on smartphones and tablets. However, social media sites also play a major role in how people are now coming together and forming relationships.
According to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, more than a third of people who got married between 2005 and 2012 met online, through online dating outlets or sites like Facebook. Not only was this surprising due to the large number of the population who were shunning traditional dating methods, but it also found that these marriages were more likely to be successful. The study found that those who met online and then got married were “associated with slightly higher marital satisfaction among those respondents who remained married.”
While online social networks are helping to establish many new relationships, they are also helping to destroy many that have been ongoing for some time. Lawyers and solicitors around the world have pointed out that social media sites are becoming more and more prevalent in divorce proceedings, with some suggesting that 1 in 5 break-ups might have something to do with them.
In some instances, sites are used to record evidence of wrongdoing by partners. This can include a person sending flirty messages to other people on the networks or sending inappropriate photographs. Some divorces have even seen people get back in touch with old romances or friends that they have not seen for a long time, leading to a breakdown in their own marriage.
It would be understandable to think that social media services would no longer be growing, as it would seem like they would have reached their peak and very few people who are not already signed up would be rushing to make an account. The truth is though, that developing markets in Africa, Asia and South America mean that there are still billions of people who are just getting access to smartphones and the internet, giving sites like Facebook and Twitter the chance to expand even further.
Despite the fact that almost half of the population are already connected to the internet and some 2 billion people have a social media account, the number is still growing by almost 200 million every single year. This means that dozens of new accounts are created every single minute,
Despite the fact that almost every single social media network does not allow children under the age of 13 to sign up for accounts, as set out in their terms and conditions, there are still millions of young children who have their own profiles. In fact, data suggests that up to 7.5 million users in the United States may be as young as 10, while another study has indicated that almost 40% of children aged between 10 and 12 already have Facebook accounts.
More frightening is the finding that for almost every single child who has an account, they either had help from their parent to set it up or the parent knew that they were using the social media network. The main concern is that these types of services aren’t designed for young children in mind and don’t offer protection against content that could upset them. Additionally, there is also the opportunity for people to take advantage of any young person using the site.
Since its launch a few years ago, Snapchat has become one of the biggest social media apps in the world. Although most people won’t know that the app’s logo, called Ghostface Chillah, is based on the Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Kilah, what is more surprising is the sheer amount of video that users watch through the service every single day.
According to the executives behind Snapchat, users are now using the app to watch some 6 billion videos on a daily basis. Considering that videos can only last for 10 seconds, that means that those using the service are consuming more than 100 million hours of footage every day, which is equivalent to a staggering 11,000 years’ worth of video.
While many people may feel that social media helps them to connect with like-minded people and therefore grow in confidence and self-assurance, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that such services actually make anxiety worse. Recent research indicates that up to 50% of all people that use social media have been negatively affected by it in terms of confidence, leading to a rise in depression and anxiety.
This mainly comes from people feeling inadequate as they can more easily see the achievements and successes of their friends. As people compare their own accomplishments to other people online, they can become incredibly anxious. In fact, the problem is so bad that many people struggle to sleep after checking social media sites as they worry about how they compare to their friends.
Friday is often seen as the best day of the week. Work is coming to an end for the vast majority of people and they have the entire weekending to look forward to, where they can relax and spend time with their family or friends. With all that extra time to do other things, you would probably expect social media sites to take a hit on Fridays, yet it is actually the most active day of the week for those using social networks.
Recent research data suggests that almost 17% of all posts and messages sent through social media services happen on a Friday. Experts believe this is because people are planning what they are going to do and simply don’t want to start new projects that are time-intensive.
“Maybe it’s just that Friday afternoon is just not a time when anyone wants to start a new work project, so they just get on social media,” says Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst on Adobe’s Digital Index team. “You’re starting to think about your weekend and communicate with your friends and family.”
Privacy concerns are one of the biggest criticisms that social networks face. Some of the most controversial moments for websites such as Facebook, focus on how they collect and use the data that they collect from their users. Various studies have shown that some apps and services have shady practices that users should be aware of.
Consumer Reports technology editor Jeff Fox, said: “Our investigation revealed some fascinating, and some disquieting trends – but ones always worth knowing for consumers who wish to keep their personal data under better control.”
Shockingly, nearly a quarter of people who use social networks never check their privacy settings. Some of these people don’t even realize they can change options to determine what companies can do with data and who can access your profile information.
Although an addiction to social media may not seem like it could extend into intimate areas, new research has shown that some people are willing to check their accounts even when they probably shouldn’t.
According to a survey carried out with 771 panelists, those under the age of 35 are highly likely to check their social media profiles while driving, while at work, and even when they are on vacation. Most shocking though, is the fact that more than a third of recipients admitted that they would log onto their accounts on smartphones immediately after they have had s*x with a partner.
This suggests that people take their social media accounts very seriously as they feel like they need to login to these sites and apps whenever they can – even if that means sacrificing a little self-respect.