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The Power of a Picture

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The Power of a Picture

SOCIAL MEDIA: Social networking sites are a powerful tool for communication. But do the potential consequences outweigh the benefits?

By Sara Kuchimpos & Aliza Patel | The Mirror Staff
December 14, 2017

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Three billion people—nearly 40 percent of the global population—log onto social media sites everyday to scroll through their newsfeed, update their status or post photos.

Social media has revolutionized the way people interact on a global scale.

In many ways, it has impacted lives for the better. Messages can be delivered instantly. A click of a button has the power to virtually unite people thousands of miles apart. Political advocates can reach a wider audience through social media platforms and information about an endless array of topics is only a Google search away.

With so many informational and social networking sites like Google, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat developing new features that appeal to younger audiences, the percentage of social media users has grown over the years.

According to one study, 71 percent of teenagers admitted to using more than one social media site. It has become normal for people to post personal aspects of their lives on social media.

However, people’s seemingly innocent posts can cause harm in their work and school environments.

What they post may be a normal routine of their personal lives, but it can produce greater long-term consequences they were unaware of.

More and more colleges and employers are checking potential applicants’ social media pages as part of routine background checks.

Anything that could be perceived as offensive or inappropriate may have a negative impact on their application. Even if a student or employee is accepted, there is still the risk of acceptances being rescinded for posts made afterwards.

Although security settings may delude people into believing their private information is inaccessible to others, two studies have shown that the friends an individual associates with on social media can reveal personal attributes and information, including the university they attend and their hometown.

Many people are left unaware of how much information they’re sharing.

A cyclist got fired from her job for waving a middle finger at President Trump’s motorcade. A picture of her actions were posted onto social media and quickly caught the attention of millions of Twitter and Instagram users. While many found the photo humorous, others found it offensive.

Last year, all schools in the Los Angeles School District were closed for a day because of a bomb threat made online.

Although it turned out to be a hoax, the district judged the threat to be credible.

Even though there are no clear rules on what actions online should have repercussions, there are many ways that online platforms are taking a stand against inappropriate online postings.

Platforms like Facebook have included new community guidelines where users are able to instantly report another user or post for investigation.

Such guidelines have helped users protect themselves from harmful posts or other content with malicious intent. Facebook has also tried to educate users, posting tips for parents, teenagers and educators on the appropriate way to deal with potentially harmful content.

The boundaries of social media are endless, so it’s paramount that all users of social media stay cautious about what they post and who they associate with online.

While online platforms may be powerful tools that connect people from all over the world, users aren’t guaranteed immunity to the negative consequences that sometimes follow their online actions.

Sara is currently a features writer for the Mirror. She joined Journalism her senior year of high school.

She is an animal lover and has been vegetarian for nearly two years. She enjoys swimming, listening to music, and spending time with her friends. Sara plans on pursuing a career in Environmental Science and law. Sara immerses herself into extracurriculars that showcase her passion for social justice, like Junior Statesmen of America.

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The Power of a Picture