Social Media is evolving into a “must have” commodity in those countries which have the technology and political will to enable it. In other countries, there is an expectation that the wishes of the population will result in at least minimal access to social media platforms and other modes of communication through electronic means.
Social media will beckon to individuals, non-profit organizations, businesses, and political organizations appealing to perceived needs of the target audience. One of the things which social media does well, in general, is carve out a niche (large or small) market need and develop products to meet that need. Reflect on the growth of Twitter, Snap Chat, Instagram, WhatsApp, Zoom, etc., and you will find examples of slow and rapid scaling as demand increased and expectation changed.
What is the core attribute of social media which is successful is its willingness to evolve, to change when it makes a wrong turn in its evolution, and to respond quickly to perceived threats? Facebook is a prime example of a platform which makes course corrections, social media improvements, rapid scaling, and willingness to change apparent. You may not agree with the positions of some social medial providers and apps, but you have a choice whether to use those services or not. Social media may take a position one week on a certain point of free speech and change the next week if public outcry and legal counsel concurs in the need to change.
Whether you use social media to get the news, be entertained, make sales pitches, have a presence, sell products, provoke conversation, share interests, update friends and family, or gather to meet online for whatever purpose, etc.,. social media has become a staple in the quest for visibility and reach. The truth is that it is difficult to determine the truth on social media however hard the platforms and providers try. Some people themselves catfish, lie, exaggerate their accomplishments or appearance. Some businesses appear to be real when they are simply scammers. Some politicians may also fall into the exaggeration spectrum or make promises that they know they cannot keep without the help of others which has not yet been offered. Special causes may be highlighted which turn out to be scams. Others take a high percentage of contributions for administrative costs.
Some platforms are good at weeding out spammers, scammers, and fakes. Others are not. Some platforms take an aggressive stand with respect to protecting the underage from inappropriate images and languages. Others do not. Some apps allow parental controls. Others do not. Some apps advertise extensively. Others do not. Some platforms hold themselves out as business platforms. Others do not though they serve businesses. Some apps promote themselves as learning apps, or sharing apps, or alterative apps for a particular purpose.
Using social media is like visiting a large provider of “stuff.” It is like shopping at Amazon, Walmart, or Alibaba. Consumers make the decision which social media apps or platforms to “consume.” Consumers determine whether they will pay if required for that app or platform, how much they will use it, and whether they continue to use it and how frequently they use it. Even though the providers above are intent in keeping the commerce legit, consumers still must be judicious in their use. People with gambling addictions may still visit gambling sites and get themselves in financial difficulty. People with shopping addictions may make purchases also get themselves in financial difficulty. Addictions to playing games, shopping, gambling, drinking excessively, etc. cannot be controlled by social media per se. Social media may help in addressing the problem, e.g., weight loss, health, lack of exercise, depression, but it cannot control the underlying behavior.
Individuals and entities should not rely on social media as a quick fix. It is a supplement to use for pleasure, information, or business, but it is not the answer to all problems. If individuals continue to have the willingness to evaluate, consider, and choose, social media will continue to provide a much-needed service and be an asset to civilization.