Although I’m an advocate of social media, I also understand how the characteristic features can be a double edged swords. This is especially true when it comes to the phenomenon of peer pressure, as for example some studies indicate that teens who are constantly visiting social networks might be more likely to adopt poor habits, such as smoking, drinking. This danger is amplified by the anonymity that online identities can offer. Just two days ago, the Secret, an anonymous texting app startup officially announced they were closing their service, which its insider platform to break out news such as Ever notes acquisition. The company wasn’t short of earning but according to its CEO David Byttow “Secret does not represent the vision I had when starting the company”. The app was meant to create a safe space for people to spread information and safely share opinions but it came to the headlines instead for spreading unfounded news.
A similar app “Yik Yak”, which also keeps the user identity anonymous, has been used instead in very creative and positive ways. For example, it has been recently used to educated youth on HIV by a nonprofit (What Works in Youth HIV), which employed strategically to spread knowledge not just for HIV prevention but also to help remove the social stigma still attached to being HIV positive. Another positive case of the use of Yik Yak was its role in preventing suicide attempts at colleges . There is a clear potential for these kind of apps to reach out youth and be used for the social good, however, just as equally there is a potential for offering powerful outlets to a darker side of our society, where lying, cyberbullying, harassments can be dangerously empowered. This leads to hard questions in regards to the cost-benefit balance for these new technologies, where a a bigger moral responsibilities is placed on the user, compared to traditional media.