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Facebook and Its Socioeconomic Impact

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Introduction

A range of computing applications has been evolved in the past decades but nothing as popular as Facebook. Facebook is one of the most globally popular social media platforms in today’s world. According to a report by statista.com, there were 2.7 billion active monthly users during the second quarter of 2020 and 1.82 billion daily active users during the third quarter of 2020.

Facebooks impact on the global economy is also tremendous. According to a report by Deloitte Facebook was responsible for 227 billion US dollars and 4.5 million jobs globally in 2014 .

To further understand how computing has changed our way of life and its socioeconomic impact on our daily lives let’s look at a survey conducted by one of Europe’s leading economic firms. Copenhagen economics had surveyed 7700 businesses across all industries and sizes in 15 European countries. The survey has shown that Facebook has helped them to produce 208 billion euros worth of revenues, economically speaking an estimated 3.1 million jobs last year.

For this reason, I believe that Facebook is the best example and a perfect platform to study to understand and explore the socioeconomic impacts, challenges, opportunities, inequality, and ethical issues that have come with computing technologies.

Socio-economic Impact

Facebook has changed our lives in many ways. Whether we know it or not the way we think and see things is greatly influenced by various social media platforms and Facebook is at the forefront. It has a tremendous impact on our economic, social, cultural, and political aspects of our daily lives. Facebook has changed the traditional way of communication. Nowadays using Facebook, you can hang with your friends regardless of geographic location and get updated with each other on a daily basis. It has also created an opportunity for a lot of people to find like-minded people and build communities. By connecting over two billion people Facebook has changed the way we see the world. People can share cultures, learn new things which result in understanding each other, and promoting shared values and goals across the globe. It also creates an opportunity to create businesses and get connected to billions of people. It has also provided us with a platform where individual users can advertise to sell things as it has a dedicated marketplace. Facebook has also a great influence in political elections. Political parties and candidates can engage and mobilize a wider community easily compared to the traditional way of using the mainstream media. It also creates an opportunity for the wider community to raise awareness regarding the various issues that arise in their society and forcing politicians to address them. Although different computing applications have proved that they have significant importance in our daily lives and have played an important role in uplifting our standard of living there is a major issue that has come with them and needs to be addressed which is social inequality. One of the major inequalities concerning Facebook is the digital divide.

The digital divide is the gap between regions and demographics that have access to modern internet infrastructure services. It exists globally between developing and developed nations and locally between cities and rural areas. For instance, if we see the gap between Africa and the west while only 27% of the African population has access to the internet, around 90% of Europeans and North Americans have access to the internet.Furthermore, the digital divide among developing nations is much higher (between rural areas and cities) compared to the developed nations. As Facebook is based on internet infrastructure digital divide is one of the major issues of Facebook. The cost of using Facebook and the ability to use it on daily basis is also another factor that creates inequality. While in some big cities of developed countries wi-fi access is provided freely on the main streets and most of the hospitality industry provides free wi-fi for the wider public, citizens of most developing countries can’t afford to use and browse Facebook continuously on their daily basis as the cost of internet is much higher compared to their income. The consequences of this inequality are that billions of people are discriminated against for all the benefits that Facebook provides and are left alone creating a major social inequality. Another issue that arises with Facebook is the gap in demographics which we call the social divide. According to data released by Facebook, young people are the biggest demographic group that uses Facebook whilst the use of Facebook by elderly people (65+) is low . Although Facebook is relatively easy to use, the ease of use is another element that creates social inequality when it comes to how well individuals can utilize it. Well educated people can utilize Facebook to their needs in promoting their businesses and starting digital marketing as compared to low educated people which further increases income inequality.

Ethical use

Privacy

Another concern that comes with Facebook is ethics. Facebook collects a lot of data from its users. Users have been always worried about their privacy as a lot of their data from basic information to their likes, preferences, and even their day-to-day mood is exposed. Improper use of personal data or data breach is one of many ethical issues facing Facebook. Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018 is an example of Privacy issues where Facebook has been accused of misusing the personal data of its 50 million users nevertheless Cambridge Analytica has admitted to collecting data from only 30 million users.

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Fake News, Harmful and Hate Speech

Fake news hate speeches and racist content are also some of the biggest ethical problems Facebook has to address and could have a devastating effect if not properly addressed. As Facebook is an online platform where users can post textual and video content and hosting live streams without any censorship, the nature of the content is a major concern. Without polarizing free speech content that promotes ethnic conflict, xenophobia and religious radicalism should be filtered out and banned from Facebook. If we consider the role of radio Rwanda on the Rwandan genocide , we can imagine how unethical and improper use of Facebook could affect our well-being and harmony. Another example is that research conducted by the University of Warwick in 2018 found that Anti-refugee racist and xenophobic posts are the main reasons for increased violence against refugees in Germany . Organized online disinformation is also another ethical issue that needs to be addressed as it could cause political and economic uncertainty and could have a great impact on our democracy.

Digital Ownership

The role of computing applications in creating the digital world is non-negotiable. Several computing applications are out there making our life much easier. But They have also posed a great concern for Digital ownership. Face book could facilitate copyright infringement as videos and contents can be shared illegally without the author’s approval.

Fraud

Facebook fraud is also a major issue. There are so many real-world events where Imposters with fake accounts are using Facebook messenger to defraud users.

Discrimination

Facebook has allowed a lot of businesses to advertise to a large range of audiences and targeted advertising is one of the common practices used by Facebook. But there are incidents where advertisers are using it unethically in which they are found to ban certain people according to their race, religion, and other interests. One example of this is that the charges brought against Facebook for breaching the US fair housing Act as advertisers are restricted certain categories of people from accessing the housing-related ads .

To tackle these ethical challenges that come with Facebook or other computing technologies governments should need to regulate it constantly and need to follow a stricter approach to reduce any conflict of interests and to force these at Facebook or other platforms to address them properly and take a strong initiative to fight these problems.

Conclusion

Computing and computing applications have a huge impact in today’s world. The rise of various social media and communication platforms has a profound influence on our economy, social interaction, and even our thoughts. Facebook as a leading social media platform has changed the business and marketing industry. It enables several businesses to build a solid relationship with their customers and helps customers to have a say on the services they get by easily sending feedbacks. It also creates us a platform where we could easily follow any news and events across the globe and a platform where we could easily share and broaden our knowledge. But on the contrary, Facebook has brought us several challenges. Improper, illegal, and unethical use of Facebook could affect so many businesses and even innocent lives. The risk that comes with computing technologies is serious and there should be a global understanding of their usage and they should be regulated by governments.

This assignment has helped me to understand the opportunities and challenges that come with computing and to realize the power of computing in both positive and negative ways. As a person aiming to join the software industry, I found this project is useful in preparing me to acknowledge the responsibility and ethics associated with computing.

References

  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/346167/facebook-global-dau/
  2. https://about.fb.com/news/2020/01/european-economic-impact-report/
  3. https://about.fb.com/news/2020/01/european-economic-impact-report/
  4. https://www.ocorian.com/article/africas-digital-divide
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook%E2%80%93Cambridge_Analytica_data_scandal
  6. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/mar/28/facebook-ads-housing-discrimination-charges-us-government-hud
  7. https://www.omnicoreagency.com/facebook-statistics/
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_T%C3%A9l%C3%A9vision_Libre_des_Mille_Collines
  9. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/21/world/europe/facebook-refugee-attacks-germany.html
  10. https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/
  11. https://investor.fb.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2018/Facebook-Reports-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2017-Results/default.aspx

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Facebook and Its Socioeconomic Impact. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 7, 2022, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/facebook-and-its-socioeconomic-impact/
“Facebook and Its Socioeconomic Impact.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/facebook-and-its-socioeconomic-impact/
Facebook and Its Socioeconomic Impact. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/facebook-and-its-socioeconomic-impact/> [Accessed 7 Dec. 2022].
Facebook and Its Socioeconomic Impact [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2022 Dec 7]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/facebook-and-its-socioeconomic-impact/
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