Social networks surpass Internet porn in popularity

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Social media has become bigger than the porn industry. According to an article on reuters.com, the new “it” girl title belongs to social networking sites like Facebook.com, MySpace.com and Twitter.com. 

How many times have students been in the library and seen someone rooting around in their Facebook profile when in all likelihood they should have been doing their homework?

Ask yourself honestly how many times in a day you get on your Facebook profile. Three? Five? 25? If you answered like most college students, you are probably on social media more than twice on any given day.

Changing society has brought about a new era of social media reform; gone are the ancient days of e—mail and cell phones the size of a small microwave. Social media is here to stay, but at a greater price than we might have thought.

The use of the social media networking sites in the last few years has skyrocketed to new levels, surpassing all other kinds of activity on the Internet, including pornography. In fact, according to the book “Click” by Bill Tancer, the searches for pornographic content have dropped to about 10 percent. The hottest Internet searches are now for social networking sites.

“It’s funny when you hear someone talking about having their mom or some relative on Facebook,” said Scott Stashenburg, junior in computer science. “It used to be just younger people [who] used Facebook; however, that seems to be changing … I think that it’s getting more common for people to add their parents or relatives on Facebook these days.”

With the use of social media reaching new heights, a whole new set of issues arises with the use of media-sharing Web sites. Privacy and advertising are a part of a much longer list that falls into the gargantuan realm of unregulated content we use today.

“It’s important for students to understand that all of their content and everything they post on a Facebook or MySpace page is there for everyone to see,” said Steve Smethers, associate professor of journalism and mass communications. “It’s a massive unregulated jungle of information on the Internet, and there are all sorts of legal and ethical issues that go along with social media.”

Tom Gould, associate professor in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism, said not to share anything over social networking sites that you would not share with your mother.

Smethers also said these social media networks are quickly becoming indispensable to companies and corporations. Potential employers are using their resources to track down profiles of job candidates and are also monitoring employee profiles. 

But are people on Facebook and other Web sites too much, giving up valuable face time? 

“By sending an e-mail or posting something on someone’s wall, we are increasing the potential for someone to misconstrue your message,” Smethers said. “We can insert an emoticon to make up for the loss of expression, but it doesn’t really replace human emotions.”

Don’t lose the message, Smethers said. That extra hand gesture or eye contact can make up for twice the amount of time people have spent trying to word their e-mail or wall post.
   

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