Today the world celebrates social media day, a commemoration which was initiated by Mashable in 2010 as a way to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication. The impact of social media on global dynamics has been pervasive with each social media channel offering unique features. One wouldn’t be wrong to admit that we are yet to fully comprehend its indelible impact on the human race. We fondly remember when we started the social media journey back in 2006 (albeit at a personal level) on the then MySpace and High 5 who were you could say the pioneers. The advent of Facebook inevitably was the game changer as the platform took social interactions to another level. The addition of other channels namely Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and more recently SnapChat, Tik Tok, Pinterest among others clearly implies there’s room for more disruption in this space.
Social media has grown in leaps and bounds in Zimbabwe over the years and Facebook remains the go to platform for brands with Twitter and Instagram closely behind. We are glad that businesses can advertise on these platforms which was not the case with Twitter initially. From a social dynamics point of view, we have over the years seen the rise of Instaprenuers, socialites who are endorsing brands for profit.
One of the sad developments that came with social media has been cyber bullying, fomenting of hate speech, racism and fake news. It is under a cloud of these issues is social media day celebrated. Big international brands and companies namely Coca Cola company, Starbucks, Verizon, Unilever, Microsoft have withdrawn advertisements from social networks citing the need for protection from hate speech and racism being peddled on social media. The campaign was initiated by human rights activists under the Stop Hate for Profit campaign who goal was to pressure the social media behemoth into changing how it handles hate speech and misinformation, including often incendiary posts from President Trump. This later cascaded into all a boycott by big companies from all social networks.
In Zimbabwe we have had similar cases of cyber bullying on social media with some big personalities being hounded and leading them to quit. The level of hate speech which we sometimes witness on social media is quite incredible and it is our hope that the pressure from big companies will lead to them making significant changes to protect the vulnerable.
We are keen to know what has been some of your experiences on social media.