I have always been intrigued by the exponential increase in the speed of social media and how Internet has revolutionized the way we interact, which keeps getting better and more innovative. Ubiquity, mobility with increased use of smart phones, anonymity and ease of use plays a major role in this. Businesses and governments providing more services online, Internet has become a universal source of information for billions of people making the world smaller and distances irrelevant. Statistics from International Telecommunication Union(ITU) shows that 16 million Internet users in 1995 has increased to 2.75 billion this year…that’s a significant chunk of world population.
The largest online social network Facebook, founded in February 2004 had only 100 million users in 2008, which increased to 1.11 billion active users as of June 2013. The most recent statistics show that Facebook has increased to 1.15 billion in just 3 months, while Facebook-owned Instagram announced reaching a user-base of 150 million. YouTube reports more than a billion unique users visiting every month, while more than 6 billion hours of video is watched every month…that’s more than an hour of video for each person on Earth, and 50 percent more than last year.
The micro-blogging site Twitter has got 554.75 million users, tweeting around 58 million tweets a day, and it takes about 5 days to reach 1 billion tweets. It is reported that 43 percent use mobile platform to tweet, and there are around 40 percent of the users who watch other people tweet, instead of tweeting. If you print all the tweets in 12 point Helvetica font and laid them end to end, the resulting stream of text would travel at 1200 miles per hour, which is twice the speed of Facebook. Every second; 2200 tweets, 580 Facebook status updates, 24 minutes of video uploaded to YouTube, and 20$ spend on virtual goods in social gaming.
That’s so much people interacting at previously unthinkable speed, with unimaginable amount of data shared at any given second. Social media waits for no one, what we say on Twitter does not only stay on Twitter, and it lives forever in the digital world (at least in theory). As fast as the truth travels, so does lies and misinformation. Research suggests that people are more comfortable with being dishonest on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, than in real life. Another research conducted by Stephen Wolframutilizing anonymous data from thousands of Facebook users shows that, while most tell the truth, one in eight people lie in social media about social status, life events, and activities.
In comparison to real life, it is probably the innovations of modern technology changed the way people interact, which removes obstacles to conversations and removes geographical/physical boundaries, and most of all anonymity that makes it easy to lie or provide misinformation. In a famous case of lies and free speech, United States v. Alvarez, where Mr. Xavier Alvarez falsely claimed to have received a military medal, Supreme Court skirted around the law of online dating. Ninth Circuit Judge Milan Smith said “There would be no constitutional bar to criminalize lying about one’s height, weight, age or financial status on Match.com or Facebook”. Circuit Judge Alex Koziski agreed, and when the case arrived at Supreme Court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor concurred as well. Supreme Court upholding your right to lie in the “name of love” doesn’t mean you should lie to get a date, among the other things.
Given that so much of our interactions are digital now, offering unprecedented convenience and opportunity, it might remove the one thing that keeps us honest: face to face contact. You might have seen on your Facebook and Twitter feeds, people sharing so much stuff, some of which might “stretch the truth” maybe trying to appear cooler. Sounds like cool youngsters, eh? Sometimes people make stuff up, embellish truth out of insecurity, or provides misinformation/exaggeration to prove their point or agenda.
A lie started from a single tweet can possibly reach millions of people and make news headlines in minutes. People lie more on Twitter than Facebook. It might be because tweets are more speedy and visible only for a short period, if you don’t go in and look deep, where as in Facebook it stays on your wall and can get more interactive. It’s not safe to believe what’s trending on your twitter feed as the truth, without verification from other sources. I’ve seen countless lies, half-truths, misleading statements, and all sorts of coco-and-bull stories on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. I’m sure you’d have seen too. I think people chose to spread information to their advantage, exaggerating on misinformation, reaching mass audiences, which aren’t usually verified right away. Quite often, people ignorant to check the facts, start believing in what’s trending from many, and adds to the process of spreading it more…and it goes all around like a fire, and stays there forever.
This intricate web of lies and truth, makes life good and bad eh. You aren’t sure what to believe anymore, but still keeps rolling twitter feed to see what’s happening 🙂
A Twitter user Nicole Bullock (@cuteculturechic) says “Facebook is where you lie to people you know. Twitter is where you’re honest with strangers”. Ironic, but maybe true!
Now that you have read, this has absolutely no relevance to “Lie to Me” series, at this point of time. Till, Cal Lightman gets here..haha!