The Social Impact of Social Media

“That doesn’t affect me”, is a statement that we hear a lot; perhaps you have even said it, yourself. In some instances, it may very well be true. If you don’t have student loans or children who are preparing to go to college, the student loan crisis may not be something that is on your radar.

If you are not one of the 1% (and, let’s face it, not very many people are), the tax breaks that are provided to that demographic may bother you, but after complaining on social media for a couple of days, you may stop paying attention. Social media. Chances are, you do have a social media presence, unless you are one of the few people left that doesn’t have a digital footprint.

So, while you may only think about FaceBook as a place to keep up with old friends and family, look at cat videos and engage in political arguments, the current state of things in Silicon Valley does have an impact on you beyond getting upset with your college roommate for his position on gun reform, and not just because of what it means for your photos.

As people are losing trust in Mark Zuckerburg’s brain child, they are losing faith in the entire tech industry, for both reasons of privacy and economics. After all, FaceBook isn’t the only data hoarding out there. (We’re looking at you Google and Amazon.) If we can’t trust FaceBook, the once wholesome platform that was designed as a communication tool for college students, how can we trust any of them?

Show Me the Money

Do you have a retirement account or mutual funds? Any type of investment? Hopefully, yes. Do you pay super close attention to what stocks in which you are actually invested, or do you just glance at the quarterly statement, to ensure that you nest egg is growing? Unless you are a finance junkie or perhaps close to retirement age, it’s probably the latter.

As such, you may not have known that 24% of retirement accounts hold tech stocks, compared to less than 11% only ten years ago. Which means that the $60 billion hit that FaceBook took recently is definitely going to have an impact on your retirement account.

Protecting ones data goes beyond protecting against hacking of credit card information, which hopefully you would notice fairly quickly; the current lack of regulation around social media privacy can have a long-term impact that you may not pay attention to until it’s too late. After all, when it comes to investing, we are supposed to buy low and sell high. Selling your FaceBook stock after it’s taken a tumble, isn’t going to do you any good.

Rock the Vote

Okay, so maybe, for whatever reason, you don’t need to worry about your investments. Perhaps you are one of the 1%. Are you a registered voter, who takes pride in donning the, “I Voted” sticker in November? As we turn, more and more, to social media as a tool for gathering news, we allow that information to effect our views.

It’s worth noting that FaceBook has no obligation like The New York Times or The Washington Post to journalistic integrity. People and click-bait outlets can post whatever they want to without any kind of vetting process, confirmation of sources or commitment to the truth.

Don’t we, as voters, owe it to ourselves, our children, the country and even the world, to be informed voters, voters who gather their information and form subsequent opinions based on actual facts, not some “citizen journalist” in another country, whose sole journalistic obligation is to create incendiary stories that never make it out of the realm of social media?

Perhaps you are someone who doesn’t fall for the click-bait news on FaceBook, and you take the time to curate your news from reputable sources. (Keep doing what you’re doing!) However, no matter how judicious you may be about what kinds of news you allow into your atmosphere, social media is still influencing elections, both in the United States and abroad.

Cambridge Analytica, the company currently under fire for harvesting FaceBook data, exploited the data of over 50 million users, and this breach was potentially used by the 2016 Trump campaign to impact the recent Presidential election. This same company is now under investigation for impacting two elections in Kenya, while using bribes and sexual favors to engage politicians.

Not only is the lack of regulation surrounding social media affecting your pocketbook, the quality of the news, voter turnout and election results, the behind-the-scenes activities of the ones orchestrating the data breaches are affecting the very people who write the laws regarding business regulations.

Do you still think this doesn’t have an impact on you?

Where in the World is Mark Zuckerberg

FaceBook founder and CEO has "decided to testify before Congress". Had he not, he probably would have been issued a subponea, which is not exactly a party invitation, nor a mere suggestion.

This is an issue on both sides of the pond, as the British Prime Minister is demanding Zuckerberg’s presence in front of Parliment, as well. Which raises a couple of questions: as he is not Carmen San Diego or Waldo, where has he been until recently; and, can we trust the company whose CEO was wanting to dodge accountability?