How Does Facebook Affect Society?

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With 750 million active users as of the date of publication (according to figures on its website), Facebook has the potential to affect society in both subtle and obvious ways. In 2011, protestors in the Middle East used Facebook to organize and in some cases change the regimes of their countries. Because Facebook is still relatively new, it's impossible to know all of the effects on society it's made -- and will continue to make in the years to come.

Connecting

  • The biggest overall change Facebook has made is allowing people to connect with more people. It's difficult to keep up with the changes in the life of hundreds of people when you rely on older technologies such as email or snail mail. Facebook lets you keep track of the basic details of hundreds of people every day. That way, if you do connect in a more "real" way later, you're not starting from scratch. Facebook says the average user has 130 "friends," and that more than half of all users log in at least once a day.

Speed of Communication

  • With email or phone calls, you have to take several minutes (at least) to make any meaningful connection. On Facebook, you can "like" someone's status in your news feed in just a few seconds. This speed means you can connect with many more people per day. However, this speed is also criticized for making interaction less meaningful -- while Facebook users can interact with dozens or even hundreds of people a day, the quality of those interactions may not be as satisfying as other types.

Age

  • People under the age of 13 aren't allowed on Facebook, and many senior citizens avoid it because of an aversion to or lack of knowledge about technology. There are certainly older people on Facebook, but this age bubble means that the majority of people on Facebook are teens through middle-age. This can skew a user's perception of who is active in their life, unless they're actively reaching out to non-Facebook users as well.

Privacy

  • The advent of the news feed in 2006 drastically reduced privacy on Facebook. Instead of having to go to friends' pages for details, you now see their activity on your home page in an active feed. One of the biggest complaints about Facebook is that it reduces privacy considerably. However, there are many privacy settings available, and you always has the option of not putting your sensitive information on Facebook.

References

  • Photo Credit Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
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