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90 Pros and Cons of Social Media

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Social media is any online communication tool that allows broad participation whereby people can post content, comment, share and interact. Views of social media have gone through a hype cycle whereby people felt overwhelmingly positive about it when it first emerged and now tend to feel overwhelmingly negative about it. This can be seen in the media where coverage of the negative effects of social media now vastly exceed coverage of its positive effects. The following is an attempt at a balanced view.


In order to understand the advantages of social media it is necessary to imagine the world without it. For example, a world where only governments or large media companies can publish information at scale and everyone else is a media consumer. With this in mind, the following are possible advantages of social media.
Connects people globally
Instant information sharing
Keeping in touch with people
Social networking
Venue for political discourse and debate
A way to escape social isolation
An outlet for free expression
Allows small businesses to promote themselves
Political awareness
Political engagement
Political dissent
Tool for political activism
Access to news and information with no paywall
Opportunities for small media producers
Creative expression
Tool for learning
Knowledge exchange
Diverse perspectives
Sustaining relationships
Low cost way to communicate
Family communication
Provides every user with a global voice
Raising awareness of environmental and social issues
Building new relationships
Entertainment and stress relief
Finding inspiration from others
Asking questions to a broad audience
Potentially educational
Tool for research
Tool for businesses
Often free or low cost
Allows the truth to get out
Can break down barriers between people from different backgrounds
Potentially diverse and inclusive
Finding others with the same interests
Supports the development of subcultures
Professional development
Professional opportunities
Reputation building


The disadvantages of social media largely relate to how it is governed, managed, controlled and used. That is to say, that it is a powerful tool that isn't inherently negative in itself but produces negative outcomes in the real world due to the realities of how it gets managed and used.
Spread of misinformation, rumors and gossip
Tool of propaganda
Online censorship
Centralized control by corporate owners
Privacy risks
Creates a digital footprint that may be more or less permanent
Filter bubbles that cause people to overestimate how much others agree with them
Cyberbullying that impacts offline life
Social exclusion in social media such as classmates that exclude a few people from a class-wide thread
Social media addiction
Wasting time
Impact on productivity such as studying or working
Negative impact on self-esteem due to issues such as unrealistic portrayals of lifestyles, beauty and social life
Promotion of consumerism
Promotion of shallow values
Online vigilantism
Damaged reputation based on misinformation
Spread of biased information that is produced to a low standard
Echo chambers where people with similar opinions convince each other they are right
Overuse of social media for socializing whereby people become isolated in real life
One-sided terms of service imposed by owners of social media
Social media owned by monopolies whereby single firms and individuals amass large scale power over global politics and information exchange
State controls over social media whereby it could become a tool of oppression
May generate jealousy, envy and a fear of missing out
Dissemination of private or confidential leaked data, media and communications
Short form social media that may lead to short attention spans
Online scams
Online crime
Sleep disruption
Information overload
Excessive notifications that disrupt real life processes
Copying negative behavior in social media
Fake news
Mental health issues
Increased screen time
Comparison culture
Political polarization driven by echo chambers
Exposure to age inappropriate content
Unwanted exposure to graphic content
Reduced physical activity
Reduced face-to-face communication
Pressure to conform to trends
Pressure to curate an online image
Pressure to conform to groupthink
Erosion of family time
Loss of empathy
Desensitization to real-world issues
Humans are social beings but social processes were historically at the local and community level. It's possible that people have difficulty in adapting to social processes at global scale. For example, if you lived in a small village 200 years ago and someone insulted you, it might be important to respond to defend your position or reputation in the community. This type of thinking might not work very well when dealing with platforms with billions of users.
Next: Characteristics of Social Media
More about social issues:
Air Quality
Civil Society
Culture Change
Environmental Issues
Natural Resources
Public Safety
Quality Of Life
Right To Know
Social Challenges
Social Conditions
Social Injustice
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Social Outcomes
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Social Stability
US Social Issues
Virtue Signalling
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