I’ve posted on a number of occasions about the good and bad of social media. Only this week there have been calls for some people to be banned from social media if they misuse it. That is an interesting issue and one that may get picked up on in another post if I see fit.
Today I want to talk about social media being a virus. Ok, not a real virus, not even a computer virus, but being virus like in its behaviour. The flow of information on social media websites is incredible in it’s speed. Stories often break to the world not through traditional news channels but via Twitter. This is where the comparison begins. Once it’s broken, it then takes on its virus like properties in how it spreads. There has been research undertaken into the spread of news via social media to see how it acts. A virus was the descriptive result.
One might think that the spread is something like an exponential curve, but this is not the case. Instead it booms, slows, booms, slows again, maybe slows a bit more before booming again etc. There’s no specific pattern, but apparently it’s a bit like a virus.
Interestingly enough it was found that even when the initial ‘news’ was incorrect, the effect of social media correcting it, getting the right story out, the same was evident with the ‘virus’ managing to get the correction out to ensure that the correct information was being spread.
The research didn’t cover the rights and wrong about incorrect information being spread and needing to be countered, but it was interesting to read that there was a self-correcting element on social media. Neither did it cover, as far as I am aware, of the extent of the damage that the incorrect information would have caused by its initial spread through social media before the correction, especially compared to more traditional news providers. Maybe that research is for another time.
So, social media spreads like a virus, research has proven it. Is it a good or bad virus, well I suppose over the course of forthcoming history we’ll find out.