World social media day: History, significance and impact of online community

June 30 is globally observed as the world social media day every year to celebrate the power and impact of social media in connecting people. The key communication tool has become an integral component of our lives in sharing ideas, fostering communities, and driving social change. It also constantly shapes the way we communicate, and engage around the world.

Significance of ‘social media day’:

The first social media day was celebrated in 2010 by Mashable – a news website. Through observing the day, Mashable wanted to focus on how social media impacts us and its role in global communication. However, in 2018 the company said it was passing on the legacy of ‘social media day’ to the common public.

The launch of Sixdegrees in 1997 marked the advent of first social media platform ever. The website allowed users to list friends and family members among other features and eventually paved way for more relatable, advanced social media platforms we see around us today.

‘Growing challenges’

As empowering as this tool is, the need is also to focus on the areas where social media needs improvement. Many studies and reports have surfaced, highlighting the challenges and emerging concerns in this sector. A growing key concern around the use of social media is key concerns is the potential for misinformation and fake news to spread rapidly across platforms, its addictive nature, and effects on mental health among other things.

A recent study conducted by ‘Sapien Labs’, a Washington DC-based organisation, on the first generation to have used smartphones in adolescence- the age group of 18-24 year old – showed early access to smartphones among kids resulted in worsened mental health problems.

Additionally the evolving nature of social media has created new forms of cyber crime. The the National Crime Records Bureau data showed that in 2021, India alone registered 52,974 cases of cyber crimes an 11.8% increase compared to the previous year.

Meanwhile, other key concern emerging in this field is around user privacy. Tech-media giants Meta, Amazon, Google keep facing scrutiny for failing to protect personal information of its users. Just last month, Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc. was fined a record €1.2 billion ($1.3 billion) European Union privacy fine for shipping data and these issues make just the tip of the iceberg.

The flourishing social media platforms Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have turned the world into smaller place but addressing the challenges around it is the way to strengthen these communication platforms to ensure a more responsible and beneficial use of social media.

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