Social media’s expanding universe

Social media’s expanding universe

By Antony Mutunga

In the 20th century, advancement in technology took on a new meaning as technology quickly metamorphosed. After the creation of super-computers in the 1940s, scientists and engineers from all over the world continued to innovate. This led to the birth of the Internet which, in turn, resulted in many new developments among them, the first recognizable social media site.

This took place in 1997 with the launch of the site by the name Six Degrees. The social media site enabled its users to make friends with other users as well as upload their photos. This pioneer led to the emergence of others such as Myspace and LinkedIn. Over the years, social media continued to gain prominence around the world as a result of more people joining the craze.

Today social media has become a crucial part of this digital era. The likes of Facebook and Twitter have become so popular, with users from all over the world flocking to their sites in numbers. Compared to the first site, nowadays social media is being used for other functions other than uploading photos and communicating with other users. 

For instance, organisations today use social media to market and interact because of its enormous digital footfall. According to Statista, an online portal for statistics, the number of users on social media in 2019 currently stands at 2.77 billion users and it is expected to rise to 3.02 billion by 2021.

With so many people in social media, some are now resorting to these sites as media for screening job applicants. Indeed, different organisations screen new employees on the basis of their social media interactions. According to CareerBuilder, an online employment platform, 70 percent of employers are now using social media to screen candidates during the hiring process.

Unlike in the past, people now express themselves via social media and the internet. They upload images of what they like and enjoy as well as their achievements, which in turn demonstrates their character traits. Luckily, or unluckily, this is what employers consider when they want to gauge their applicants using parameters besides those applied traditionally. In checking their social media accounts, employers are able to determine if the people represent themselves professionally and thus know they will replicate the same when representing the company.

In fact, in some instances, the state of one’s social media account gives them more appeal in terms of qualifying for a job than other candidates who aren’t as active online. Apart from exposing the real personas of the applicants, these non-traditional means also help reduce the cost of recruitment. As well, through social media sites, employers can also monitor the behaviour of their employees online. This is a tactic organisations use to ensure brand protection as well as protect the work environment.

The uses of social media are expected to permeate hitherto unexplored realms… the social media universe can only grow.

As of May this year, the US rolled requires visa applicants to provide information about their social media accounts. According to the State Department, this is expected to affect about 15 million visa applicants. The new rules require foreigners to give out information about their past social media usernames, email addresses, phone numbers and international travel data dating back five years. Additionally, they are also asked whether they have been ever been deported, and whether their family members have ties to terrorist groups. Before, the government only required e-mails, phone numbers and social media details from people identified for extra scrutiny such as people who have recently travelled to regions with high terrorist activity. 

While this has been roundly criticised, in its defence, the US says that social media can be a major forum for terrorist sentiment and activity – even as it is concurred the new rules will hinder rights such as freedom of speech. It is, many submit, a cloaked form of suppression.

Celebrated by millennials, the uses of social media are expected to keep permeating hitherto unexplored realms. From Six Degrees to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, the social media universe can only grow. ( 

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