4 Articles to Read This Week on Social Media

We love it, we use it, we increasingly depend on it: social media has evolved beyond a way to effortlessly “check in” throughout the day into an often surface-deep exploration of our lives. This week, we compile some perspectives on the ubiquity of social media in our everyday interactions and ask whether it’s always a force for good.

The truth behind a social media darling: It was hard to miss the news about Essena O’Neill, the teenage Instagram superstar who took to the platform to denounce what she said was painful manipulation of her image to sell products and increase her follower count. O’Neill took a hard stance against social media, saying she would shutter most of her accounts as a protest against the vanity and shallowness they represented. Some observers, though, (perhaps cynically) wondered if this was another step in a publicity campaign— in other words, whether it, too, was done to gain attention from social media’s breathless audience. [Read more at the New York Times]

Watch what you say on Twitter: This take on Twitter dives into social theory and academic research on literature and culture to argue that the microblogging service no longer acts as a sort of water cooler, but rather a megaphone of sorts. Whereas users once Tweeted about whatever was on their mind, Twitter users now are much more careful about what they say, having seen the kind of collateral damage that an ill-advised Tweet can wreak. Whether this makes the service any less useful or powerful is up for debate, but it may be making it less popular. [Read more at The Atlantic]

Social media expert? Here’s a credit card: Some ambiguous statements from the CEO of FICO, the credit score provider, led some observers to wonder whether he had admitted the company used an applicant’s social media profiles as a determiner about how reliable they would be in paying on credit debt. Not so, clarified a spokesperson, who said the comment was just an analogy. But the idea raises some intriguing questions, once again, about what’s appropriate to post online in today’s hyper-vigilant era. [Read more at NPR]

Could social media save your life?: In a recent study, 71% of social media users said they would allow a doctor to access their social media accounts to help detect early signs of disease or other ailments, or to help them live healthier. Researchers believe that clues from a typical Facebook or Twitter account could reveal symptoms or signs of medical issues before the user would visit a doctor’s office. [Read more at the Globe and Mail]

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