Misusing social media

Yanessa Hernandez, Staff Writer

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On the Sunday of April 13, a joking tweet directed at American Airlines went viral. The tweet read: “@AmericanAir hello my name’s Ibrahim and I’m from Afghanistan. I’m part of Al Qaida and on June 1st I’m gonna do something really big bye”.

Soon after, the Airline responded: “@queendemetriax__ Sarah,” the name of the user who had sent the tweet, “we take these threats very seriously. Your IP address and details will be forwarded to security and the FBI.”

The situation caused a stir on Twitter as the tweets were seen by many Twitter users, who retweeted the tweet sharing it with others and so on. The amount of attention brought to the situation as well as its outcome of an arrest raises the question: Are the jokes on social media starting to go too far?

These days it seems like people will go to any measures to get a viral response from the users of social media, whether it be Twitter, Instagram, Vine, or any of the other social media out there. We see people slapping others in 6 second videos to post to the Vine app (referred to as “Smack Cam”), people “jokingly” tweeting threats, and even people recording themselves doing stomach turning acts just to get a reaction out of the users of social media or to attempt to lead to online fame.

There are multiple examples on various social media sites and apps that help to conclude that the different jokes and pranks being done for the audience that they provide are starting to go from amusing to too far. On each major social media network, it appears to be something different that people are turning to for attention. One thing they all have in common though is how they have the same goal: attention and humor.

Facebook, a social media known for sharing updates and pictures, has been known in the past to serve as a place where teenagers have posted videos of themselves that had left the viewers shocked to say the least. The content of these videos is typically of teenagers doing sickening and disgusting acts that end up going viral. As a result, they end up spreading from newsfeed to newsfeed. When teenagers turn to doing things that cause the viewers to sit in disbelief and disgust afterwards and are also damaging to their reputation and morals, it shows that the social media site is being misused in attempt for “Internet fame” or attention.

Instagram, a smart phone app used for sharing photos and videos, serves as a platform for people to make fake accounts. The fake accounts that are seen on Instagram aren’t the same form of fake accounts seen on Facebook. They’re not people pretending to be other people in most cases, but rather people who create hate pages or “block accounts.” Block accounts aim for something very simple: getting blocked. They go on the pictures of people with thousands to millions of followers and leave rude, hurtful comments in attempt to get the user to block them. They aim at celebrities and those who are well known on the Internet.  These people aim for the attention of their targets as well as their fans.

Twitter, a social media site and smart phone app used for sharing mostly updates, holds a variety of different examples of people who are reaching for a viral response from other users. Aside from the joking threat from a 14-year old girl, there are hate accounts that aim at celebrities and their fans or just aim at striking reactions with rude tweet after rude tweet. An account that is now unused, @PlasticBieber, directed fans of a popular band among teen girls, One Direction, and other celebrities from time to time. This account serves as an example of the lengths people are turning to in order to get a reaction out of people and receive hundreds to thousands of followers.

Vine, a newer smartphone app compared to the others, is used for its users to post 6 second videos. Usually these videos are skits or something funny that fits into the limited time frame provided. This social media app differs from the others in its approach to fame. Users typically get “famous” by making people laugh or sharing their talents causing their popularity to grow. One joke done for entertainment, though, is called the “Smack Cam.” The person usually puts some sort of substance (sometimes shampoo, shaving cream, etc.) on their hand and slaps someone by surprise.

It’s not to say that every person on these social media sites are misusing them, but when you see how extreme some of the attempts at a viral reaction or Internet fame are, it’s ridiculous to say the least. Social media is intended for allowing others to keep up with your life and how you’re doing, not to go out of ones way to do something unspeakable.

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