The utility of Social Networking Sites (SNS), notably Twitter.com and Facebook.com is increasingly becoming an integral and popular element of our daily communication. The phrase Social Networking Sites is defined as the use of mobile and web-based technologies to make communication an interactive dialogue (Jewkes, 2015). SNS comes in various forms such as internet forums, magazines, social blogs, weblogs, podcasts, wikis and videos among others. As the world is amidst a social media revolution, it is evident that social channels like Skype, MySpace, Twitter, Orkut, Instagram and Facebook are intensively used for communication reasons (Pea et al. 2012). This communication method could be between two people or among a group. Nowadays, most people are hooked on Facebook and Twitter to maintain contact with peers. These channels have become media for social interaction besides being used as social communication tools (Pea et al. 2012). There are advantages and disadvantages to the use of Facebook and Twitter. One key advantage is education, in that they allow for the extension of learning discussion and information sharing outside the formal classroom setting among different groups. This online sharing of knowledge increases communication competencies among learners in educational facilities. However, they have a flip side. At times, these tools seem to be misused by individuals, leading to interference with a user’s privacy. Nevertheless, Facebook and Twitter continue to bring people closer to one another, particularly those living across global borders.
Twitter and Facebook developed until they became the most popular SNS across the globe. The widespread growth of these sites holds pros and cons. Therefore, this research paper aims to investigate the disadvantages and advantages of using Facebook and Twitter, especially in using the following groups, the wall, uploading pictures, and videos. The purpose of this report is to review advantages and disadvantages of two social networking sites; Facebook and Twitter. The report considers the benefits and costs of Facebook and Twitter on business enterprises and the society as a whole. This report gathered information from online resources, both academic databases, and public web pages.
SNS are growing every minute on a daily basis. Their purpose is to allow communication between people all over the world. You can communicate with co-workers, family, friends or new individuals who one day will become your friends. You can communicate with all their friends, too. Both Facebook and Twitter have some way of communicating. This could be blogging, messaging, and photo sharing and chatting. Some SNS are aimed towards specific groups of individuals like book lovers, soccer lovers or environmental lovers, just to name a few. First, Facebook went online as a SNS in 2004. Initially, it was restricted to Harvard students until when it was expanded to all colleges and eventually the rest of the world. Currently, Facebook has grown to surpass 500 million users (Lee, 2014). This number surpasses MySpace in terms of web traffic and registered users. MySpace enables people to offer status updates and customize their profile page just as Facebook. It serves its users with the option of adding multimedia and music to their profile page. Facebook does not allow this feature. Essentially, MySpace is a single webpage dedicated to the user, and it can be used to interact with friends. Possibly the reason behind the success of Facebook is its greater continuity and simplicity of operation throughout user profiles (Lee, 2014). Twitter, on the other hand, adopted the concept of Facebook and simplified it. What differentiates Twitter from Facebook is that it strictly permits the user to post a maximum of 120 character comments (Jewkes, 2015). This results in easier, faster message reading. A person can read four tweets on Twitter.com in the same time he/she would take to read one comment on Facebook. Twitter’s profile page is even simpler as it shows users tweets in large font on the opposite part of the page while at the same time displaying followers on the right side. Facebook is argued to display what is seen as an intimidating amount of information. This “ease of use” has served Twitter, an upper hand over Facebook.
As a real-time information feed, Twitter is a channel where users communicate via 120 character comments with their followers. Today, businesses are using Twitter as a strategy to connect directly with their client base and communicate company promotions and news. Many professional service companies use it to communicate best practices, share knowledge and network with others in the sector-specific communities. According to Murthy (2013), Twitter is an integration of social networking and micro-blogging. These websites serve users a chance to engage in real-time sharing of tweets. Usually, a tweet is no more than 120 characters that the user’s followers can view. Drawing from Twitter official statistics, (Twitter 2016), the site manages over 350 million tweets daily. In fact, Twitter experienced a strikingly 1400% growth between 2009 and 2010 and continues to enjoy high growth rates (Murthy, 2013). Moreover, individuals and companies can use Twitter for corporate and personal purposes respectively. Twitter tops other SNS in terms of its ability to interact with a larger audience. It is being used effectively to promote services and products online and have them noticed immediately. As such, it offers business organizational the best opportunity to go viral.
Under this real-time information feed, users can create corporate and personal pages. Today, Facebook has approximately 500 million registered users surpassing MySpace the world’s most famous SNS as far as the number of unique visitors is concerned. It is argued that Facebook pages are social media editions of a corporation’s website. Companies are using their Facebook pages to announce updates and news, which then drops into the feeds of other Facebook users that have liked a company’s page. Just like Twitter, companies are using Facebook to create online connections and share information with followers. SNS are based on the concept of creating a fan page. Facebook’s design is always improving thus making it easier to create a page exclusively to promote a brand while building an organic and engaged fan base.
ANALYSIS OF ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
Facebook and Twitter are revolutionizing the way individuals communicate with each other, both for pleasure and business. Some argue that companies should simply block workers from accessing these sites while at work claiming cyber-slacking. This may not be the case as these sites offer individuals, workers, and companies a real advantage. Some of the advantages linked to the use of Facebook and Twitter are discussed below.
Assessments of e-learning strategies have found Facebook and Twitter allow for the extension of studying conversations outside the official classroom setting (Lee, 2014). Therefore, they promote further studying as learners not only engage with the material for longer but also are more likely to associate with it and integrate it into their everyday lives. Also, studies performed on the use of hand-held gadgets to deliver office studying revealed: “regular accessibility‟ implies individuals can access resources in a way that is both relevant and convenient to them. In turn, this results in a higher level of execution into work practice. Facebook and Twitter are also being used to improve opportunities for official studying across geographical situations. Case in point, within Pularumpi School and Sacred Heart School’s Linking Latitudes program, students from both institutions use Twitter and Facebook’s instant messaging and video to share details about their work and cultures collaboratively. Using Facebook and Twitter, learners from the two academic institutions connect to students from over forty other academic institutions (Murthy, 2013). Additionally, Facebook and Twitter use between instructors and students can improve motivation, rapport, and involvement with education and learning. From the perspective of informal knowledge and skills, Facebook and Twitter can facilitate skill development and learn outside formal learning environments (Murthy, 2013). This is achieved through collaborations, supporting the peer-to-peer learning of skills, diverse cultural expression, skills development and an empowered concept of citizenship. Lastly, following the high degree of personalization and urgency involved, Facebook and Twitter are specifically vital learning spaces for individuals struggling in traditional academic settings.
Networking, collaboration and information sharing
SNS, in this case, Facebook and Twitter, have demonstrated to be effective for business networking. People in nearly all organizations are using these sites to maintain business contacts and introduce contacts and colleagues to one another informally. The nature of these sites specifically is meant to encourage collaboration and information sharing between professionals operating in various industries. For instance, Facebook has a page for nurses, doctors, teachers among other professions. This motivates feedback and regular communication. With minimal restrictions, these sites would serve a valuable, easy-to-use forum for business discussion or academic debate. This can be illustrated by the use of restricted Facebook groups. Companies are setting up a private domain and using it to share ideas informally, thus encouraging creativity (Lee, 2014).
Facebook and Twitter forums have similarly opened up new promotional and marketing opportunities for companies. Businesses, both large and small are also creating fan pages to promote their businesses (Schneier, 2016). In fact, a Facebook page has proven to be a key relationship builder with clients. These sites are becoming the new marketing strategy as they have replaced the traditional forms of advertising. With a Facebook or Twitter fab page, organizations can draw in users offering a brief summary of the business operations. Given that a user likes what is portrayed to them, he/she is likely to follow a link to the company’s website for more information. Interestingly, a fan page is often free. Businesses may pay for banner advertisements on Facebook and Twitter and may create their home pages. Appealing to the less formal, tech-savvy generation who are always seeking information about the latest brands on Facebook and Twitter, the platforms have become a valuable, low-cost marketing device. This is especially in the case of consumer-facing companies.
Strengthening Interpersonal Relationships
A positive interpersonal relationship is deemed a key predictor of wellbeing. Facebook and Twitter’s functions such as instant messaging, video sharing among others may address new obstacles that people confront to establishing and sustaining positive social relationships (Schneier, 2016). Such obstacles may include lack of time free of structured activities like school, lack of accessible, safe and welcoming public spaces, as well as inadequate transport to reach these public spaces. Facebook and Twitter challenge these obstacles, as they are easily accessible, every day each minute via different technologies and from different geographical locations. Moreover, they assume a critical part in addressing the effect that high degrees of complexity and mobility may have on long-term relationships (Jewkes, 2015). For instance, research indicates that these sites are helping people who have recently transitioned from high school to college to form new relationships while sustaining the old high school friends. Precisely, students who exhibit lower degrees of fulfillment with college life and reduced self-esteem levels profited the most from active use of Facebook and Twitter.
Apart from the manifest advantages of Facebook and Twitter on global level discussed above, these sites have some adverse effects at individual, organizational levels and on social systems as a whole.
Marketing on SNS, namely Facebook, and Twitter caries various risks. Unless a company has someone to constantly monitor the firm’s accounts, disgruntled employees or customers might publish negative comments or tweets that are not often removable (Schneier, 2016). For instance, all posts on Twitter are public, and the user has no control over what others say. Therefore, the negative news could go viral as easily as good news and may do a business irreparable damage. In 2012, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association released a report ranking malware and viruses, lack of control over company's content, brand hijacking, and unrealistic customer expectations as the top risks of Facebook and Twitter.
Kills interpersonal relationships
The use of Facebook and Twitter affects social well-being, social relationships and time available for study, sleep and other activities (Turkle, 2011). In fact, Pea et al. (2012) of Californian Stanford University launched an online survey focusing on 3500 girls in North America. In this research, they investigated the relationships between media, social well-being, and face-to-face communication. Their findings indicate, “Negative social well-being was positively associated with levels of uses of media that are centrally about interpersonal interaction, namely Facebook and Twitter” (Pea R. et al. 2012). Media multitasking is linked to a multitude of social indicators such as not feeling normal, feeling less successful socially and sleeping less. It is related to an intense feeling towards more online friends as opposed to in-person friends. The degree of face-to-face communication is strongly adversely related to Facebook and Twitter multitasking. Therefore, these findings indicate that “the growth of Facebook and Twitter multitasking should be viewed with some concern” (Pea et al. 2012). In comparison, face-to-face communication is strongly linked to a multitude of positive social feelings. “Higher levels of face-to-face communication were associated with greater social success, greater feelings of normalcy, more sleep, and fewer friends whom the children´s parents believed were a bad influence” (Pea et al. 2012). Moreover, the findings hold that “even Facebook and Twitter that are meant to facilitate interaction between people are associated with unhealthy social experiences. The idea that these communication channels would open up a rich social world that benefits people’s social and emotional development is belied by these findings” (Pea et al. 2012). This implies that online communication (Facebook and Twitter) and face-to-face communication and not interchangeable.
Criminal gangs target Twitter and Facebook platforms because they provide an effective way of propagating malware to a huge, unsuspecting audience (Schneier, 2016). The recent Secret Crush Facebook widget and Twitter Man in the Browser (MitB) attack are examples of how criminals are using these sites to their advantage. These platforms serve an easy method of playing a percentage game; they have so many users thus the criminals know how to rely on some of them to become victims. Still, given that the user is accessing Twitter and Facebook from a work PC, the company’s entire network risks being compromised. Particularly, this is the case when individuals believe they are receiving something from a friend, and thus, their security is automatically reduced (Jewkes, 2015). Stalkers and purported to enter into the worldwide web and log into Twitter and Facebook sites to find out about people, especially the youth. Often, they use flattering tactics and make the user feel special and as if she/he is, the only one he/she cares about. The stalker can view any videos or photos that a user puts online, including all his/her online friends (Jewkes, 2015). A user cannot remove any photos that she/he puts on the web. If a person, puts too many personal details on the web, the stalkers to trace the person and meet him/her. With this, it is argued that Twitter and Facebook are open up this ability for stalkers to find too much information about people, trace and meet them.
False identity and bad behavior
Twitter and Facebook are characterized by anonymity, which facilitates people to take liberties with the truth and misbehave without consequences (Turkle, 2011). When using these sites, it is impossible to trust the identity of others. Cybercrime, lies, and deception attest to this. For instance, in the area of scientific work, the mental contributions of people, normally examined in essays, is mandatory. Here, anonymity causes a key issue because students may purchase, download or commission such essays. Both Twitter and Facebook serve the opportunity to fake personal mental effort. Despite the presence of software to combat plagiarism, it has proven to be partly successful. Furthermore, anonymity leads to misbehavior following the lack of social control. One of the most well-known of this is cyber-bullying or mobbing. Turkle (2011) writes “Cyber bullying is any behavior performed through electronic or digital media by individuals or groups that repeatedly communicates hostile or aggressive messages intended to inflict harm or discomfort on others“. A survey focusing on German youth shows that roughly 32% have been victims of cyber-mobbing (Schneier, 2016). At least one out per five students are directly affronted or threatened through Twitter or Facebook. More so, one out of ten has declared that they have at once been cyber-mobbing offenders.
Therefore, where does all this leave the society that seems to be greatly concerned about the intense use of Twitter and Facebook sites today? The answer is technology in the form of protective Web gateways to allow people to use these sites securely and safely. A protective Web gateway as Web marshal integrates data leakage prevention, advanced Web access controls and inbound threat controls in a single centrally managed service or solution that makes accessing Twitter and Facebook a high reward, low-risk practice. For organizations, there are both personal use issues and technical challenges that need to be addressed. First, companies must determine their mode of operation, identify and apply proper underlying technology solution. Then, they need to communicate to their staff how they can use Twitter and Facebook in accordance with the company’s Accepted Use Policy. Twitter and Facebook are presently boasting of a great profile because the benefits that they pose override the challenges. Nowadays, workers are permitted to access these sites on the job but with some limitations. While some companies prevent workers from accessing such platforms, the smart ones have deployed Acceptable Use Policies combined with secure Web gateway technology to keep their employees and the company safe, while fostering a flexible work climate. Not only does such powerful security measures safeguard against threats posed by Twitter and Facebook, but they also protect individuals and companies from various unknown web-based threats.