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The Longevity of Social Media
16/05/2018

In the wake of the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal involving Facebook, its become apparent just how powerful and all-encompassing social media has become. The personal data of over 80million people was hijacked and used as a powerful political weapon, leading to public trials and people beginning to question whether time is running out for social media.

Social media has become more than just an online network; some people have completely different lives on these digital platforms. The internet presents people with all the tools they need to craft entirely new personas from the comfort of their own homes. Behind the keyboard, people can be whoever they want to be and say anything they want, both good and bad.

Facebook, despite the recent surfacing of their negligence, helped pave the way for this generation’s infatuation with social media. Whether its posting pictures from the recent sunny (!) bank holiday weekend, re-connecting with a friend from high school, or simply virtually poking your sibling, Facebook has developed a teeming digital world for its users to engage easily with one another at any given moment.

For all the benefits that this connectivity brings, its unfortunately weighed down by the negatives. Despite most of its members using it with good intentions, the genesis of Facebook also gave birth to “internet trolls”. Sneering and sniggering from the safety of their phones or computers, this minority can always be found contaminating news feeds with poisonous comments and anti-social content. It’s become apparent that Facebook is a catalyst for bullying within schools, providing students with unmonitored environments where they can freely abuse others.

The same applies for other forms of social media, namely Twitter. Whether it’s a celebrity or a company, Twitter has set up another fantastic networking system for people to stay in-the-know and up to date with current events. Personally, Twitter has become my main source for breaking stories and general news, such is the speed of social media to help amplify and distribute stories around the world. This social network is also a brilliant tool to quench fan’s thirst for being able to follow their favourite celebrity’s daily movements. 
Because of the freedom to speak to almost any user across the world, the population of trolls is unsurprisingly high on Twitter. It only takes one scroll through the likes of Ricky Gervais and Piers Morgan’s feeds to see the amount of abusive barrages they receive on a daily basis. Twitter is also a very unforgiving platform; one misjudged tweet can result in a fierce trial by social media, as the tweet is instantly beamed across the world and relentlessly scrutinised and dissected.
The less said about a certain world leader’s tweets the better.

YouTube is one of the most popular media apps within the world, which means its no surprise that people have been able to achieve incredibly well-paid jobs through the site. Through uploading content and obtaining sponsorships, YouTube has produced numerous millionaire “YouTubers” through their platform. The diversity of uploads on YouTube is staggering; whether it’s a 30 second snippet or a 2hr long podcast, if you’re looking for a certain type of video, the chances are it’ll be on there. This single form of social media has allowed people to earn hundreds and thousands of pounds by playing video games in their bedroom. Now who’d want a job like that?
YouTube is also not without problems; content creators have been increasingly frustrated with demonetised content, meaning that their video upload income is being restricted. The arrival of big name TV shows to site has also put a strain on their viewership; highlight videos and additional mainstream content are constantly stealing the “trending” limelight, making it hard for new and original content to go viral.
Aside from its array of filters and pictures of food, Instagram has also been cleverly utilised by companies to help market their products. As mentioned before with all the other social media platforms, the newsfeed can be added to every minute of every day; users will consistently be bombarded with sponsored material from the models and celebrities they follow, advertising just about anything companies wish to market. This demonstrates how social media has completely revolutionised the way products are marketed and presented to target audiences, and Instagram is a prime example of this.

But just how long will this social media revolution last?
As proven with the 7 second phenomenon Vine, this revolution will undoubtedly result in platform casualties. This world of personal information and data is also set for an imminent collision with GDPR, and its army of regulations and laws for social media companies to comply with. You may have already seen the notifications popping up on your apps, as everyone prepares themselves for the online world post-GDPR.

What we can be sure of is that social media is a prime example of the diverse, connected world we live in. People may have different intentions for it, but ultimately social media is a powerful tool for our society. With the rapid development of new digital technology emerging every day, interaction with the digital universe is only going to continue to grow. Social media plays a key part in this, but for how long? 
At the turn of the century, if I’d have told you that you could have a face-to-face conversation on a portable computer with someone on the other side of the world, you and your dial-up connection would have laughed at me. The life force of social media is connectivity; the ability to reach anyone across the world at any given moment is now a luxury we all have. As the world continues to connect, social media will continue to grow stronger. It’s not perfect, but for now, this fascinating digital phenomenon is leading the charge for the online revolution, which is showing no signs of slowing down.

By Jeremy Sumner

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