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How Is Social Media Harmful?

Many people are on at least one social media platform, and individuals are being introduced to this phenomenon at younger and younger ages. The proliferation of technology and the popularity of social media has made it easier for people to connect with people they know—and even those they don't—all over the world, but many people have reported that certain social media platforms have caused more harm than good.

Someone who has suffered harm because of social media may want to know their rights and might even be curious if they have grounds for a lawsuit against a person who caused them harm. If this is you, meeting with the lawyers at Morgan and Morgan might be a big and important step towards recovering compensation.

While there are many different proposed benefits associated with social media, such as a greater connection to loved ones and a greater cultural understanding among a diverse population, it can also be very divisive and harmful to people, based on how someone uses social media as well as many of the uncertain aspects of the algorithms behind social media platforms. Social media can be used to harm people in a variety of ways and some of those could even rise to the level of lawsuits in which evidence is used to tell the story of things like defamation of character or even violations of child custody agreements.

Due to the complexities associated with using social media and sharing information so broadly in this day and age, it's important to be careful when using these platforms for personal or professional use.

Below are some of the reasons that social media is believed to be harmful and some of the ways that it has begun to manifest as problematic. As with many other things, it is recommended to use social media in moderation, but it is also important to be educated about some of the potential downsides of social media and some of the challenges it presents.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • What about Public Sharing of Information/Violation of Privacy ?

    Prior to the advent of social media, many people were much more private about their personal lives. Unless a person was part of their individual circle or knew them through community organizations and activities, you may not even know where someone works. Today, far more information than a person's workplace is available.

    Now you can learn more about people's families, the hobbies they choose to spend their time with, and their exact locations when they're on vacation. In this way, social media can be harmful by sending cues to other people who may wish to do you harm. For example, if a burglar is casing your property and monitoring your comings and goings for the purpose of breaking into your property, they may note your recent vacation pictures posted in another state or country and use this as an opportunity to break in.

    Employers can even monitor social media feeds to make sure that a person is not misrepresenting or poorly representing the company's opinions. In this way, a personal profile is so much more than someone's personal opinions and a place to share pictures and updates on their lives. It can also be seen as an extension of their professional self, and information shared on these platforms could be used against someone in a job evaluation or even for termination purposes.

  • How about Fake News?

    There are many different stories about the widespread nature of fake news on social media platforms, especially Facebook. Some research has even shown that fake news spreads up to six times faster than actual news on platforms like Twitter. This is problematic because many people use social media as their primary source of news.

    Rather than seeking out other more verified sources, someone may latch on to a belief that is completely inaccurate or has been misrepresented based on another person's viewpoint. This means that social media can be harmful because people can take up activities or share opinions that cause big misunderstandings or even legal issues.

    This particularly came to light in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were seeking out social media to learn more about the spread of the Coronavirus, ways to prevent it, and what to do if they believed they had the Coronavirus.

    A great deal of misinformation was spread. Some believe that the companies behind many social media platforms actively chose not to correct the misinformation so as not to disrupt their ability to make money.

  • In Cases of Depression, Anxiety, and Suicide?

    Although sharing pictures and life updates with others on social media is broadly known as a highlight reel of the best moments of someone else's life, it can also cause damage to people of all ages, especially those in their teenage years. Many teens report the “fear of missing out” contributes to their near-constant social media use, even when that use increases their risk of anxiety and depression.

    Spending too much time on social media is especially problematic for young teens. Their brains are still developing, and some psychologists believe that too much social media use is changing the way teens think and even make decisions.

    Cyberbullying has also become increasingly common as a direct problem associated with social media, but there are also more hidden issues such as depression, anxiety, and even eating disorders due to the comparison of one’s self against others. Peer pressure also feeds into this because certain social media platforms are popular with specific demographics making teens and young adults feel as if they need to be on those platforms to remain connected to their schools, community, and their friends.

    Sometimes young adults and even adults kill themselves because of online bullying, or when in-person bullying spreads to the online arena. These devastating situations leave behind big impacts on family and friends.

  • What about Addictiveness?

    Many ex-Silicon Valley engineers and founders of popular social media sites have left their companies and gone on the record about the addictive or slot-machine nature of using social media. The social media companies have everything invested in keeping viewers' eyes on the platform and not going elsewhere, such as to other websites. This has initiated behavior known as doom scrolling in which a person finds it impossible to disconnect from the consistently updating feed on their social media platform. This can cause a broad range of problems such as misspent time with family, lower self-esteem, and decreased productivity, among others.

  • What About Hate Speech and Violence?

    Social media has also been used as an online gathering place for many different kinds of groups or people with common interests. Unfortunately, this includes groups perpetrating hate speech or outright violence. Some terrorist groups have even taken to using Facebook Messenger in order to carry out their communications believing that it is less likely to be tracked than other electronic communication like email. This can allow terrorists or people carrying out human trafficking rings to communicate pertinent information to those in their networks or even to conduct illegal deals online.

  • What About Stating False Information About People?

    Slightly different from fake news is the consideration of defamation of character and other claims involving social media. It is very easy to create a meme or a highly shareable post about a person which can then go viral, spreading like wildfire as fact to many different people. In some cases, social media feeds are used in lawsuits to illustrate how a person has allegedly misused the platform or attacked another person.

    Even deleting a post on social media once it has been posted is not a way of fully removing the problem since screen captures and internet archives can pull this information back into distribution as if it had never been deleted in the first place.

    If you or someone you know has been seriously harmed as a result of social media, and you believe it has risen to the level of a lawsuit, you need to consult with an experienced and dedicated lawyer. A personal injury attorney can help you go through the process and navigate the legal steps for recovery of compensation.

  • Do I Have Legal Grounds for a Case Due to Social Media?

    You might not be sure if you have grounds for a legal case involving social media if you have not ever handled one like it before. You need to have the support of the right legal team when deciding to file a suit against someone else for an issue involving social media.

    Not every problem will rise to the level of an actual lawsuit, but you must always thoroughly review each situation to be sure you know what to expect. The lawyers at Morgan and Morgan can work with you to help you understand whether or not your case meets the legal grounds for filing a suit.

    Whether you're worried about a case involving young people or things that impacted you in your real life, Morgan & Morgan can help you determine the best course of action moving forward to protect your legal rights. If you've been harmed by someone else's use of social media, don't wait to get support for your claim. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to learn more about your case.

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