I don’t use any social media other than Facebook, I really don’t understand Twitter, Instagram, or Snapchat. I can do everything those three do on Facebook, why the need for others? So instead of talking only about Facebook, I will go over a less known, yet popular with teens, social media site/app that is a little iffy in my view. Because today’s youth seem to be obsessed with anonymity, risky behaviour, and the insatiable need for attention, that can easily turn into bullying, I thought it would be an interesting thing to share.
The social media platform is called Ask.fm, this app is used for kids to ask questions without having to reveal their identity to others using the app. Ask.fm was purchased by Ask.com in 2014, an article written by Mike Isaac for the New York Times quotes the CEO of Ask.com stating that “[Their] going to focus on turning around the philosophy of the company and putting trust and safety first”, which really hasn’t been the case so far. Ask.fm has been criticized for not stepping in and taking accountability for cyberbullying that have been linked to suicides. Take the case of Hannah Smith, a 14 year-old girl from England who killed herself after relentless online bullying after posting a question on the site. I can’t help but wonder why young people are so interested in this type of anonymous social media, why do they feel so strongly about being connected to a world full of strangers and potential online predators? It makes me think that Émile Durkheim’s theory of social solidarity has something to do with our need for a feeling of social belonging. Teenagers are desperate to feel connected to people, even if it is strangers. Durkheim’s social solidarity theory rings true in today’s youth; we see/hear all too often of teenagers taking their own lives because they have been bullied to the point that they can’t see a way out. It’s ironic that the one thing that youth are doing to feel more socially connected is the thing that is actually hurting them the most. Ask.fm took in 6 million Euros a year before it was purchased by Ask.com, at that time is was owned by Russian brothers that were only interested in making millions of dollars; with little regard to the safety of users.
The social media phenomenon that is Facebook has turned into a massive online social media network with over 1.23 billion users, from its early days of a site used to rate ivy league university girls, originally called “Facemash” created in the dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg and his peers. Facebook quickly took off with university students across America eventually making its way into main stream pop culture, it is now the biggest social media site in the world. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held off on making Facebook a publicly traded company for over four years, most likely out of greed, until its Initial Public Offering (IPO) on May 18th, 2012. Zuckerberg was very smart in how he decided to sell shares in his company, the Facebook shares were divided into two categories, class A and class B (Watson, 2016 Lecture 1 June, 20). Zuckerberg is the only one allowed to own class B shares and he owns enough to make sure he is the only one needed to vote to make any changes to the company. This is reminiscent Karl Marx conflict theory that divides us all into social classes, “haves” and “have nots”. Mark Zuckerberg is a “have” and we are all “have nots”, in theory we all work for him and he profits from us.
When I log onto Facebook I normally see a lot of news postings from cites such as Huffington Post, New York Times, CBC, CNN, etc… I tend to spend too much time on Facebook every day, it even sometimes takes away from my school work, it’s the last thing I do before bed and almost the first thing I do when I wake up. It sometimes takes my attention away from my kids, no I’m not one of those parents that ignores their kids. Facebook claims that all of its active users are separated by only four people, meaning that I am only four Facebook connections away from a person in Siberia, or the rainforest. This is similar to the “Small Worlds Experiment” by Jeffrey Travers and Stanley Milgram in 1967 that concluded that everyone in the United States is separated by only six degrees of separation. This is sociologically significant because it brings up questions and concerns about globalization. Facebook plays a huge role in the elimination of space and time, we can now communicate instantaneously with anyone in the world at any point in time. We can buy something online and have it delivered directly to someone on the other side of the world in and instant. Ok, maybe Facebook is not responsible for those things, but it definitely helps in the unstoppable force that is globalization.