But there are real-world implications for the improper and unethical use of social networks.
Some recent examples include the backlash and subsequent firing of James Gunn for old jokes, the purported Russian interference during major U.S. elections, and the use of targeted fake news by domestic and foreign actors.
Believe it or not, there are several ways in which social media can be used to sabotage, disenfranchise or misinform others.
One common form is a wave of angry people — not necessarily even a majority — who mob together and form a community of outrage.
Another pointed use for social media is to further the rapid spread of disinformation.
For example, the way in which Israel and Hamas have leveraged social media and public sentiment in their war against one another.
Such dastardly uses of social media can have very real implications, both on society at large and on a more personal level.
In the case of foreign influence on social media, damaging forms of propaganda can be lobbed into the social sphere with the intention to create dissent.
Don’t take what you read on social media as fact, especially if it’s shared by others or within a community and there’s no visible source.
This includes not just social media but all online forums, instant messaging and chat apps and even text messages, since conversations can be screenshotted easily and saved for later.
If you’ve already published such things, which may be the case with tweets and social posts, learn how to delete or remove the resulting data.
When all is said and done, the best thing we can do to protect ourselves in the age of disinformation and mob mentalities is to take an active approach to sourcing our own information.
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