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Ethiopia: Are social networking sites good for society?


12 October 2012

Social Networking Sites (SNS), are only a decade long phenomenon. However, today SNS has championed in affecting the lifestyle of people across the globe.

Most celebrities have turned their face to SNS to promote themselves and their businesses, hence, have registered tremendous successes.

One of the most successful SNS, Facebook was created and launched in February 2004 by Harvard students Mark Zuckerberg, Eduardo Saverin, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, the site began as a network strictly for Harvard University. Two months later, the site expanded to include other Ivy League schools. After that, the college network slowly grew and by the end of 2004, it had registered more than a million users.

Today, there are various SNS, created on various bases to serve the diversified interests of users-be it entertainment, professional, academic or whatever. Many of these sites have succeeded in attracting the attention of youngsters more than any other segment of the society. Recent research findings indicate that Facebook users are between the age of 13 and 25 that accounts 46 per cent of the total. Hundreds of thousands of people invest their time on such sites. A good example for that might be the fact that people watch more than 2 billion video clips daily and every hour users upload an average of 24 hours of video content on youtube.

Indeed, the innovation narrows the geographical gap between people that live at different places. It also helps in communicating information much faster than any other media. This is the single most important reason for attracting significant number of users to these sites. It is made possible to find out latest events virtually equal to one who has a physical presence to it supported by motion or still picture, voice or text.

It is evident that those sites have enormous advantages. However, there are countries that worry about these networking sites. This is simply because SNS could possibly reveal any secrets and incite rebellion against governments as it has been witnessed in north Africa countries. This was also evident in UK during the riot sparked in Tottenham and even made Mr. David Cameron to propose whether it would be right to stop people communicating via social media. Companies as well are worried about the negative impacts of SNS on their business in various ways, thus, forced to take measures. Accordingly, in May 2011, HCL technologies (A leading offshore IT and software development company) announced that approximately 50 per cent of British employers had banned Facebook from the workplace. Facebook has been blamed for decreasing employees' productivity and has been called a national obsession by anti-Facebook blogs widely.

Cases including the stalking of minors, bullying and privacy issues become part of the public debate over social networking. Several minors have been lured into relationships with sexual predators they met online, forcing MySpace and other services to adopt age requirements and other safety measures. Copyright infringement cases have also arisen as a result of the use of music and video clips on personal profiles. Cyber breaches such as defamation from anonymous sources and posting pornographic pictures are also other challenges particularly to Facebook while minor users also tempted the company. Facebook, for instance, removes 20,000 underage users a day. Whereas, Facebook has been blocked in several countries including the People's Republic of China, Iran, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Syria,and Bangladesh for various reasons.

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SOURCE: allAfrica

 
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