For the last five years or so, social networking sites have escalated both in numbers and popularity as millions register at these sites for various reasons. Consequently, several sites have materialized such as MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook, each with its own slant and users’ appeal.
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However, Facebook has received most attention from over 500 million users worldwide; it has become the norm than rather the exception across the world population. As internet technologies continue to advance, Facebook and other social media sites bring even a bigger impact on society.
Correspondingly, the use of Facebook has improved and promoted interconnectedness among friends in spite of their temporal and spatial differences. Moreover, Facebook has facilitated socialization by allowing individuals to meet, share, create, and nurture friendships over the internet.
However, in spite of fact that Facebook is the modern way of promoting businesses and connecting people worldwide, it should be banned due to privacy issues, relationship devastations, and its use to endorse political revolutions.
Facebook history and its initial purpose
While, Facebook has been cited as the world largest website, its’ beginning was quite humble. Currently, Facebook membership stands at more than 500million users monthly and the number keeps growing each day. However, looking back seven years ago, Mark Zuckerberg’s idea of creating a social networking platform for his college mates would appear insignificant as compared to the gigantic social networking site being witnessed today.
Zuckerberg conceived the idea of a social networking site during his undergraduate years at Harvard University (Carlson, 2010).). Motivated by idea of enabling students within his campus to get to know each other, assisted by his college mates, Zuckerberg founded Facebook, which was initially restricted to Harvard College.
However, following some technical and operational advancement the site was expanded to other colleges in the region and it was just a matter of time before it was made available to everyone. By 2006, nothing could stop Facebook from becoming a global phenomenon, when it started accepting membership to all and sundry as long as one was over 13 years and had a valid email address.
Initially, the then called ‘thefacebook.com’ integrated several social networking applications that enabled its users to add friends, comment on friends’ profiles, and send messages, update own profile status among other myriad social connectedness functions (Carlson, 2010).
Despite numerous hurdles along the way, Facebook has been positively embraced across the world, thus increasing its usage and popularity. As of 2009, it was ranked as the most popular social networking site with its monthly usage increasing each day in English speaking countries including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada (Carlson, 2010).
Moreover, its penetration in regional internet markets has been tremendous with North America in the lead at 69%, Middle East, 67 %, Latin America 58%, Europe 57% and Asia pacific 17%. The author underscores that, Facebook photo applications have facilitated Facebook popularity whereby users can upload and share an unlimited number of photos.
Contrastingly, Facebook has also overgrown its initial social networking idea to encompass other diverse roles. Following its huge membership base, most businesses are utilizing this platform to market their products and services to the myriad users (Carlson, 2010).
Facebook connects people worldwide
Given the magnitude of attention that Facebook has received across the world, my opinion that, it ought to be banned might sound like a big joke. By enabling people to meet and make new friends, Facebook has become the basis for social engineering.
With the cost of living rising each day, Facebook provides people an alternative means of staying connected with friends and family. Apparently, the status update and newsfeed application permits individuals to follow up on what is happening to their friends regardless of the spatial distance between them (Facebook, 2011).
Most importantly, seven years down the line, Facebook is still living up to its mission of opening up the world up by facilitating connectedness and online interactions. With the advent of Facebook and other social networking sites, the world is becoming smaller as people across different cultures, borders, genders and customs share and exchange materials online (Carlson, 2010).
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According to Facebook (2011), the site is visited by over 800million active users with an average of 130 friends per user. Moreover, over half of these users log on to the site each day as they interact with various applications.
Furthermore, an average user connects with his/her friends via the various applications such groups, events and community pages and most active users have access to an average of 80 such pages. Furthermore, with over 70 languages available on Facebook, individuals are able to connect without the restriction of language barriers.
As a matter of fact, over 75% users are located outside the USA, meaning Facebook is a global entity (Facebook, 2011). The above analysis indicates that Facebook is a social engineering site that defies the constraints of border, language , cultural, social ties and economic disparities and that it promotes interconnectedness among global users.
On the other hand, whereas social interconnectedness may sound like an excellent idea, the fact remains that, the shortcomings which will be discussed herein, outweighs the benefits of social connection. Furthermore, one is compelled to question whether the social ties created via Facebook are genuine.
Connectedness influences crime
The fact that Facebook popularity has escalated with unparalleled intensity is not questionable, however, the big query remains about its contribution to cyber crime. History has shown that whenever great masses of people come together crime is inevitable.
As aforementioned, Facebook membership has been increasing each day and with its ability to surpass language, cultural and physical barriers, the site has managed to bring a multitude of people together. However, although this positive aspect might look highly attractive, the recent crime report makes the entire argument ineffectual.
According to (Milsom, 2010), with the rising popularity of social networking sites, the rate of crime associated with this site has also increased at unprecedented levels. The report by Cambridgeshire indicates that Facebook related crime ascended from a diminutive figure of 22 in 2007 to over 1600 in 2010.
In 2007, Facebook related crime was extremely low because membership was also low, but as more and more people embrace Facebook so does the increase in crime becomes a distressing reality (Milsom, 2010). In addition, the report linked over 255 domestic incidents, 210 antisocial behaviors and 426 malicious nuisances to Facebook popularity.
The argument behind this notion is that, the site has attracted diversified individuals including criminals targeting the numerous Facebook users. The above implies that, if Facebook popularity is contributing to an increase in social networking crimes at equaled or even extra levels, then the entire site should be banned because it downplays the whole essence of interconnectedness if users become susceptible to criminals. The most important thing to remember is that Facebook admits children as young as 13 years who might not have the knowhow to differentiate between genuine and criminal advances.
Secondly, the concept of the social media networking sites and their influence on businesses has attracted a lot of attention lately. Based on the fact that social networking sites attract a lot of traffic, their usefulness in promoting businesses cannot be overemphasized.
Stay (2008) underscores that, Facebook site encompasses various tools that businesses can utilize to promote their brands. To begin with, Facebook Pages were created with an aim of enabling business owners to create profiles for their businesses.
After creating this Page, interested people can become fans and by liking the Page, their friends can also see, hence promoting brand or business recognition among various users (Stay, 2008). In addition, businesses can share photos, videos and any other information about their products/services thus promoting their brand image among the diverse audience not just in their home country, but also across borders.
Similarly, businesses can utilize Groups application on Facebook to advertise their brands. Most of these groups attract individuals with similar interests hence marketers can target a particular group of adventure lovers, for example, to advertise for instance a travel and tours business.
Furthermore, the advertising engine enables businesses to identify the size of demographic target that is enrolled on Facebook. This enables marketers to make decisions on whether to advertise to that demographic depending on the available statistics or not.
On the same note, big businesses have special customized options upon which they can advertise their business. For this option, if users make a purchase, their friends are able to see this activity; and betting on the impact of peer influence, such business might end up making more similar purchases (Stay, 2008).
Most importantly, marketers can use Facebook polls to gauge user’s perceptions about their products/services. In addition, marketers can conduct polls to gauge whether a particular products or idea will be viable when introduced into the market.
Finally, Facebook Connect is also a vital tool for businesses to connect with users who visit their site. Although, Stay (2008) underscores that Facebook has a long way to go before it can be fully advantageous to businesses, the bottom line is that, the advent of Facebook has been of great importance to business operations. Noticeably, the fact that individuals can advertise their products on personal pages enables small businesses to thrive with minimal investment.
Facebook promotes business scams
On the contrary, the same way Facebook can be used to promote brand image, it can also be used by malicious rivals to downplay a product or a business idea. According to Bradley (2010), the Like button that is enabled on Facebook can be used by malicious users to create a bad image for a certain company and its products.
The latter author explains online scammers are also using this Like button to penetrate into businesses databases. This implies that some Facebook applications have become a threat to businesses IT security because the Like button can be used to spread malicious scam through unknowing users.
Bradley (2010) underscores that, what might appear like an innocent online survey might turn out to be a scam aimed at penetrating businesses databases. This can bring devastating effects to the business especially if sensitive information is accessed by outsiders through the Facebook connection pages.
The devastation of numerous relationships are due to Facebook
Consequently, the popularity of Facebook usage among married couples threatens to disentangle this significant institution if nothing is done to stop it. Recently, different surveys have blamed Facebook of the numerous divorce cases being witnessed across the world today.
An article in the Daily Telegraph reported that, Facebook was cited by at least one couple in the numerous divorced petitions that were filed in 2009 as the fundamental reason for seeking divorce (Anon. 2009). Facebook provides an enhanced platform where individuals can connect with old friends and make friends with an ease that was never experienced before.
According to FOXNews (2010), Facebook has taken social interconnectedness to another level whereby married couples are looking for the missing link in their marriages over the internet. The worst of it all is that, people are connecting with ex-partners behind their partners back, but if they happen to be busted it becomes extremely difficult to salvage such marriage.
The report emphasizes that social networking sites including Facebook tempts people to cheat on their partners, whereas they would never commit such an offense in the absence of Facebook. Since Facebook does not authenticate user’s identity, suspicious spouses can use anonymous identities to find evidence about their patterns online affairs. Some divorces are uncalled especially if the busted partner was just looking for some online fun with no intention of parting with their spouse.
According to Anon (2009), over 20% of divorces cases that were filed in 2009 made references to Facebook whereby distraught spouses cited that, their partner has engaged in inappropriate chats via Facebook.
This issue has further been aggravated by the innovation of computer software that enables individuals to keep track of their partner’s online activities. For instance, Foxnews (2010) article cite is a specific case whereby a woman used the cited software to spy on her husband online activities on Facebook.
Unknown to her, the husband was announcing it to his Facebook friends that he was going to divorce her. When she eventually filed for divorce she produced this evidence in court. What we may never know in such a case is whether the husband really meant to divorce her or was just using that statement to win over some friends, but the fact remains that such marriage would still be strong today were it not for Facebook.
Most importantly, the very nature of interconnectedness promoted by Facebook attracts myriad negative impacts than benefits because although it facilitates the creation of social networking among old and new friends, the same concept devastates established relationships.
The thrill of meeting an old love online is very tempting to bored husbands and wives who oblivious of the negative consequences of such connections risk their marriages and the parties involved end up being hurt extremely.
The gravity of the matter is that, Foxnews (2010) cites that, some marriages as old as 13 years have ended up in divorce when a partner discovers suspicious activities on their spouses Facebook account. At this juncture, the billion dollar question should be if we allow Facebook to continue because it promotes interconnectedness at the expense of marriage institutions, or if we ban Facebook usage and save the myriad marriages that are likely to fall victim to the same monster.
The rise of privacy invasion is increasing due to Facebook and its privacy issues
On the same note, Facebook has been struggling with privacy issues that make its users susceptible to online related crimes. Recently, there has been a heighted public outcry about the fact the Facebook is unable to protect personal data thus fueling online crimes as criminals utilize the exposed personal data to fuel their criminal mission (Richmond, 2011).
The inability of Facebook to protect personal data following various technical hitches in the website has always attracted a lot of scrutiny from government and the public privacy watch groups. Following this scrutiny, Facebook has tried to make some numerous changes to privacy settings in vain.
The gravity of the matter is that most users are not aware of various security bleach incidences; hence, they continue to supply persona information oblivious of the kind of risk they attract to themselves (Richmond, 2011).
Consequently, Facebook and other networking sites have been blamed of the increasing cases of identity theft (CNN, 2011). By being unable to protect its users’ personal data, Facebook is exposing unsuspecting users to hackers who often steal personal identity to commit crimes.
For instance, hackers can use employees details obtained from Facebook to bypass IT security where such employees work. This situation puts both the employee and employer at risk of being harmed by the fraudsters. Secondly, Facebook has been associated with other crime such as cyber bullying.
Sexual bullies often hide behind the faceless social networking sites to lure vulnerable individual into their trap pretending to be their friends. Once they are sure that the victim is completely hooked, the bullies unleash the other side, a situation, which has been associated with numerous cases of suicide among teenagers who have fallen in the hands of online bullies (Richmond, 2011). Furthermore, CNN (2011) claims that criminals have often utilized Facebook medium to threaten, harass and intimate vulnerable groups such as children and women.
Recently, criminals have discovered a new method to commit crime by utilizing users’ details which are easily accessible on Facebook site. Criminals are utilizing user’s addresses on Facebook to burglarize houses. For instance, if an individual updates his/her status that ‘I am holiday’ and they have provided their physical addresses, thieves can take this time to strike.
Although such cases have only been reported in UK and US only, it is evident that Facebook is risking its user’s lives and property as well due its failure to protect members’ personal data (Richmond, 2011). Consequently, since it is not the first time the issue of privacy and Facebook have emerged then maybe the noblest thing is to ban its usage in order to get rid of privacy concerns including Facebook related crimes.
The Arab revolutions have been mainly supported through Facebook
The recent revolutions that were witnessed in the Arab world countries including Syria, Tunisia, Egypt and United Arab emirates were mainly fueled by Facebook. These revolutions began in Tunisia when a 23 year old man started a mobilizing campaign through the internet to garner support that would see the Tunisian president trouped out of power (Channel4News, 2011). Although, the revolutions may have been ignited by the influence of people’s power, the role of internet especially Facebook cannot be overemphasized.
In Tunisia the media is tightly controlled by the government, hence, the protesters utilized Facebook to secretly fuel a revolution. Moreover, Tunisian government exercised monopoly in internet provision whereby other social media networking sites were banned, except Facebook.
According to Channel4News (2011), Tunisian government contemplated closing down Facebook in 2009, but backed off because they feared this would have caused a public outcry because many people were also using the site to connect with their friends.
However, this hesitation would later cost the then president dearly as protesters utilized Facebook platform to stage a successful revolution. According to Frontline (2011), these revolutions were heightened by the fact that users could share photos, information and videos about what was happening across the country. Most importantly, the leaders of this revolution posted unfavorable comments about the government and shared it with their friends, and the network became so thick that a revolution was inevitable.
Correspondingly, inspired by successful utilization of Facebook and other social sites in Tunisia and Egypt, Syria activists also decided to try a similar mode to rally followers behind a political reform movement. The activists created group fan pages that urged people to stage mass protests across the country (Anon. , 2011).
Although the revolution never succeeded due to tight censorship of Facebook in Syria, the fact remains that Facebook has contributed greatly to the numerous Arab world revolutions being witnessed today.
Following a successful revolution in Tunisia, a similar upsurge was witnessed in Egypt whereby through the unparalleled use of internet, revolutionaries all over the country kept in touch with each other as they mobilized citizens to stage a revolution (Frontline, 2011).
Internet usage in Egypt has been under tight censorship, but the government downplayed the power of Facebook and other social media networking sites that citizens were allowed to access. The activists used Groups application feature on Facebook to instrument the uprisings.
On this note, groups such as ‘April 6 movement’, ‘We are all Khalid Said’ and the like were carefully crafted by activists whereby fans supplied critical comments about the government and within no time a revolution was inevitable (Frontline, 2011).
For instance, the April 6 Movement Facebook group was the most effective in incrementing a revolution in Tunisia. Initially the group was conceived to support an ongoing textile workers strike angered by low wages and rising cost of foodstuffs.
Initially, the founders of the group invited about 300 people to join, but by the end of the week, membership had stood at 3,000 members and this number continued to increase everyday to reach 70,000 within a very short time.
In a nutshell, it is evident that the myriad shortcomings associated with Facebook outweigh its various benefits. However, since Facebook has attracted the attention of millions of social networking site users worldwide, its banning might cause devastating effects. Nonetheless, the public ought to be educated about these negative effects of Facebook, especially the privacy and crime issues.
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