The Abuse of Social Media
By Bob Branco
Social media is an amazing invention. I take my hat off to those who created it, because it took an enormous amount of intelligence to set it all up. However, I am quite sure that the creators of social media did not intend for all the abuse that goes with it. How often do we hear about people who were bullied on social media to the point where they either thought about or successfully committed suicide?
Despite my blindness, I am one of the most active Facebook consumers around. For me to be as active on Facebook as I am, I needed to understand the proper uses of this form of social media. My posts are proper, productive, and beneficial to other people. While I try very hard to use Facebook in this fashion, I read lots of very offensive posts and comments. I often wonder if those who post these hateful remarks on Facebook are doing it for pleasure or because they are too cowardly to confront people face to face. After all, it’s very easy to hide behind a keyboard without worrying about what other people might say or do.
In fact, I think that the abuse of social media is so out of control that new laws have to be created in order to regulate behavior. Slander, bullying, and other forms of abuse mean the same if you use social media as if you were making a personal public display or writing something inappropriate to a newspaper.
As a result of what’s going on, Facebook gets a rather unfair reputation at times. I know people who are afraid to use it even if they have the best of intentions. They are afraid that Facebook bullies will use personal information to hurt them. One way to avoid harassment on social media is to limit as much personal information as you possibly can. Try to be professional and objective. The less that anyone else knows about you personally, the better off you will be. In the meantime, there are ways to report abuse on social media. Just follow the guidelines that are offered to you on each site. After all, you are still in charge.
(Originally published in Word Matters)