Every second, around 6,000 tweets are posted on Twitter. Every minute, 300 hours of new videos are uploaded to Youtube. Every day, 250 million people log onto Facebook.
These websites have created an entirely new medium in which people from all across the planet can interact with each other. We can talk about what we like, what movies we’ve seen, what we did that day, and most importantly, what hilarious cat photos we’ve seen in the past 24 hours.
You can learn a surprising amount of information about some by simply lurking their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles. With more and more people signing up for these websites everyday, it’s safe to say that these websites aren’t just a trend anymore. They are the next step in the way humans interact with each other, and this is a time in history that will be studied for generations to come. However, while many of us use these sites everyday, we simply don’t understand how much of an impact these websites have on our lives. You have no idea how powerful social media can be, but you’re about to find out.
10. Social Media Has Overtaken P*rn As The #1 Online Activity
Have you ever heard the statistic that says that p*rn is the most common online activity? How could it not be? It’s literally in abundance everywhere you turn your head. But, for some reason, the tides are changing on the Internet, and we know this is thanks to a self proclaimed data geek, Bill Tancer.
Bill Tancer, author of the book Click: What Millions of People are Doing Online and Why It Matters, has spent a lengthy amount of time analyzing information from over 10 million web users, and he came to a few interesting conclusions. Some of the conclusions he came to can be used as trivia, such as the fact that elbows, belly button lint, and ceiling fans are on the list of people’s most feared things, right next to social intimacy and rejection. According to his data, surfing for p*rn has dropped to 10 percent of total internet searches, down from 20 percent a decade ago.
“As social networking traffic has increased, visits to p*rn have decreased,” said Bill Tancer. He added that he believes that people in the 18-24 demographic spent so much time on social networks, that they don’t even have time to look at p*rn anymore!
9. 1/3 Of All Divorce Filings In 2011 In The US contained The Word: Facebook
In 2009, according to the Loyola University Health System, Facebook was cited in 1 out of every 5 divorces in the United States. In 2011, that number jumped to 1 in 3 divorces. In fact, 81 percent of the United States’ top divorce attorneys say that they had seen an increased number of cases where people were using social networking evidence to divorce their partners!
One lawyer, Lyn Ayrton, says that Facebook acts a notice board of our lives, and is a great place to find irrefutable evidence about someone living a secret life, or having an affair. She says since people are posting significant life events, or events that they are trying to hide from their spouse or partner.
“Photographs and comments made on these forums can be used as evidence of relationships or of a lifestyle which contradicts what people will otherwise portray.” says Julian Hawkhead, a managing partner at Stowe Family Law, who agreed that Facebook is causing a surplus in divorces. Many other experts believe that Facebook, since it can be used to start a conversation with a billion different people, can accelerate the time it would take for someone to engage in an affair. Long story short? Facebook makes it way easier to cheat on your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend, and the evidence found on social media is irrefutable!
8. Facebook Makes You Depressed
It’s bizarre, isn’t it? A website that we all use every day can have a negative impact on the chemical balance of our brain, says a study coming from the University of Michigan. For the study, researchers observed 82 different Facebook users over the span of two weeks. The researchers discovered the longer someone spent on the website, the more likely their own feelings of well-being decreased and feelings of depression increased.
Ethan Kross, the lead researcher from the study, said that not only does Facebook increase depression, but it also causes people to have what’s known as the “fear of missing out.” In other words, the more you look at what hundreds of your Facebook friends are doing, such as taking trips, having children, starting new jobs, the more likely you are to become self conscious, and jealous of other people. A second study, performed at the University of Gothernburg studied 1,011 people and revealed the exact same results as the University of Michigan.
So, stop spending so much time worrying about what other people are posting on Facebook, and just start living! You should be happy doing what you enjoy, and feeling the need to brag about your accomplishments in an online community shouldn’t be what makes you happy.
7. Facebook Can Turn Over Evidence In Murder Cases
Have you posted something on Facebook that came back to bite you in the butt? 19-Year-old Alan Hruby did. While on trial for the accused murder of his father, mother and younger sister, a judge granted investigators permission to obtain information from his Facebook pages. Investigators found numerous posts where Alan Hruby said he didn’t like his family, and talks about the thrill of being a shopaholic, just days before his parents cut him off financially, an event that investigators believed led to their murder.
In another case, three girls accused a 19-year-old boy of being a serial rapist, which resulted in him ending up behind bars for over a year. It later came to light that the girls had conspired to get revenge on him, and they even state they should get together and watch the movie John Tucker Must Die. One of the girls even says in the group chat, “Yes, I already know this is going to be so much fun”. However, when this was brought to the judge’s attention by the defense attorney, he said he would need to think about his decision for a few weeks before granting the defense attorney the right to access more Facebook records.
While Facebook is more than willing to turn over evidence to prosecutors, the website isn’t under any obligation to turn over information to defense attorneys. A 1986 (so an incredibly dated) federal Internet privacy law protects Facebook from sharing information with defense attorneys. The only way that defense attorneys are able to look at the Facebook pages of the accused, is if the prosecutors obtain a warrant to get information from Facebook. Then, and only then, is the defense attorney allowed to look at any information found on Facebook. Remember. Anything you have posted online can and will be used against you in a court of law.
6. There Is A Drug Market On Instagram
Looking to score some drugs, but don’t want to leave the comfort of your home? A recent BBC investigation revealed that there is an entire drug trade being operated on Instagram for anyone to see. Although most sales take place in the United States, it is believed that users from all around the world are able to buy and sell narcotics such as marijuana, MDMA, and even prescription drugs such as Xanax and Roxicodone.
Initial contact between someone wanting to buy and someone selling is established on Instagram, and then their conversation continues on apps such as WhatsApp or Kik, as the apps allow the messages to be kept private. An Instagram spokesperson said that they have a strict policy on acting on reported activity that violate the terms of service, but she also added that it would be incredibly impractical to actively search for such material on Instagram in order to shut it down.
5. Social Media Companies Are Ruining The Middle Class
It’s a bold statement, but it’s a statement made by Jaron Lanier, a former employee at Atari, a columnist for Discover magazine, and author of the book Who Owns the future? In the book, Jaron Lanier brings up an interesting point. He said that when Kodak was at its peak, it was worth $28 billion and employed around 140,000 people. Recently, Instagram was sold for $1 billion, but the company only employed 13 employees.
Lanier argues that if you look at the sheer size of old tech companies and compare them to their counterparts today, you’ll realize that social media companies are incredibly small compared to how much money their company is worth! How is that Instagram was able to become the face of photography with only 13 people, and for Kodak, a company that is now bankrupt, it took 140,000?
4. The Israeli Government Pays Students To Post Propaganda
The Israeli government is reported to have spent around $790,000USD in 2013, on more than 500 students in exchange for their services to post supportive messages about the Israeli government online. The condition, of course, is that the students can’t tell anyone that they are being paid to post on behalf of the government.
The goal is for the students to respond to social media posts calling for boycotts and sanctions against Israel. The students have been instructed to appear like they are politically-neutral, but the Prime Minister’s Office is hoping to expand the operation to include help from pro-Israel student groups from around the world. Payment to students is issued through scholarships. Students in charge of the operation at each university will receive full scholarships, and are known as the chief-coordinator. Underneath the chief co-ordinator are three students responsible for language, graphics and research, and they are given smaller scholarships. At the bottom of the food chain are the student “activists”, and they receive minimum scholarships.
3. The US Military Creates Fake Online Personas To Influence The Public
Israel isn’t the only country trying to sway popular opinion in their favor. The United States Central Command, CENTCOM, is working with a Californian corporation to develop a software known as a “Persona Management System”, that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control 10 different identities online. The contract the US military has with the private company states that each persona must have a convincing background, history and other details that make the persona seem more real.
A CENTCOM spokesman said that the purpose of the technology is to “counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US.” He added that none of the online interventions would be posted in English, and that no intervention would take place on Facebook and Twitter. However, there are numerous other social network websites that they did not mention that they wouldn’t be accessing.
That being said, many fear that this opens the door for other governments, private companies, and non-government organizations to create online personas to drown out opinions that they disagree with, and bombard websites with content that promotes the company or government.
2. Posting Tweets Condemning The Mexican Cartel Could Get You Killed
The Mexican Cartel are absolutely ruthless to anyone who stands in their way. In fact, they have started hunting down journalists and other people on social media that are reporting their activities, and viciously murdering them. One woman, Maria del Rosario Fuentes Rubio, used the pseudonym Felina (Catwoman) on Twitter to report cartel activity. She tried encouraging people to speak out against gang crime. She had 510,000 Facebook fans and 100,000 Twitter followers, before her social media accounts led to her death.
In early October, 2014, Felina started receiving threats through Twitter, but she was not discouraged. A few weeks later, on October 16th, she was tracked down by the Mexican cartel and her account was hijacked. The cartel Tweeted “Friends and family, my real name is Maria Del Rosario Fuentes Rubio, I’m a doctor and today my life has come to an end.” Then, another Tweet followed. First, it was of a woman looking into the camera, and the second was of the same woman dead on the floor with a bullet wound to the head. A few more Tweets were posted, warning others not to make the same mistakes as Maria. Her profile picture was changed to the photo of her dead body.
1. One Twitter Hacker Caused The Stock Market To Plummet In A Matter Of Seconds
Are you still not convinced that social media is one of the most important, and powerful aspects of our day to day lives? There’s one more story you should read about, and it will make you realize how fast social media can change the world.
In April 2013, someone thought it would be a funny idea to hack the Associated Press’ Twitter account, and tweet out to their 5 million Twitter followers that two bombs had exploded at the White House, and that Barack Obama was injured. Within seconds, the Dow Jones industrial average fell 143 points. Within seconds, it dropped about a quarter as much as it did on the worst single-day drop back during the 2008 financial crisis.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, for those that don’t know, measures the financial performance of 30 major US companies, and is typically used to determine how healthy the stock market is. A few moments after the Tweet was published, an Associated Press reporter found it, and it was quickly deleted. But that day, every stock broker and financial big wig realized just how powerful social media really was.
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