After a long time I come back and post here. I’ve been otherwise busy with some other projects including myself. I was also travelling a lot in the last couple of months [I will come back later with some posts about that]. And yes I still owe you an article on AWS, I promise I will do it.

But today, the topic is a bit special. It is all related to the Communication of ACM magazine that I received a couple of days ago. So, without further due, the topic of today’s post is about social media, how does it influence how and what we think, and what we can do about it. I think it is particular important nowadays since many from the younger generations are getting their information from social media and they spent lots of their time browsing through it.

According to this study, 74% of internet users are also using social media networks, be it Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn. People usually use social media either for fun, playing games, talking to their friends and getting informed about world wide news. It’s well known that Twitter is the social network from where lots of people are taking their news and also the fastest. Before the news will break into newspapers and TV, they’ll probably reach Twitter first.

That’s good in my opinion, people are now more connected, they can learn about news around the world around the clock but not everyone has the best intentions there and many try to manipulate the public into buying their story. I think in the last couple of years we’ve seen it more than ever. From the #Grexit, #TTIP and more recently the immigration crisis in Europe and #Brexit people have been manipulated into one way or the other. I quoted below a part from the ACM article to further state the power of social media.

For example, bots may artificially inflate support for a political candidate; such activity could endanger democracy by influencing the outcome of elections. In fact, this kind of abuse has already been observed: during the 2010 U.S. midterm elections, social bots were employed to support some candidates and smear their opponents, injecting thousands of tweets pointing to websites with fake news.28 A similar case was report-ed around the Massachusetts special election of 2010.

Journalists, analysts, and researchers increasingly report more examples of the potential dangers brought by social bots. These include the unwarranted consequences that the widespread diffusion of bots may have on the stability of markets. There have been claims that Twitter signals can be leveraged to predict the stock market,5 and there is an increasing amount of evidence showing that market operators pay attention and react promptly to information from social media.

On April 23, 2013, for example, the Syrian Electronic Army hacked the Twitter account of the Associated Press and posted a false rumor about a terror attack on the White House in which President Obama was allegedly injured. This provoked an immediate crash in the stock market. On May 6, 2010 a flash crash occurred in the U.S. stock market, when the Dow Jones plunged over 1,000 points (about 9%) within minutes—the biggest one-day point decline in history.

I think it is now pretty clear that social media is incredibly powerful, it has the power to change governments (reason why president Erdogan has blocked social media in Turkey), endanger well-established democracies, manipulate stock markets, sway public opinio and so forth. I think all the social media network should work responsibly and do their best to prevent such practices to take fold any further. But until they do we must be really careful when we read some news on the social media even if it’s about some celebrity because there is a high chance that might not be true but sometimes wants to gain something out of it.

So my message to you is: act responsibly on social media and stay vigilant to anything you see, because not everything is as it may seem

I encourage you to download the full ACM article from here and learn something from it!

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