What Are the Negatives of Facebook?

by Laurel Storm

Facebook is hard to ignore. No matter where you turn, there are companies encouraging you to visit their page, friends posting photos of their pets' hilarious antics or talking about the fantastic shindig they attended last night, and family members sharing funny anecdotes. What's not to "like?" Plenty, as it turns out. The fallout from Facebook's downsides can have some real impact on your life.

The Internet Never Forgets

Unless you make thorough use of Facebook's privacy settings to lock up the information in your profile tighter than Fort Knox, sooner or later somebody is going to stumble onto something you don't want him to see, and that somebody may very well be your current or potential employer. According to a 2010 Microsoft study cited in a NBC article, 70 percent of recruiters have rejected job applicants based on information they found on the Internet. Anything even remotely questionable you have done or said in the past might appear on your Facebook profile, either because you posted it directly or because a "helpful" friend tagged you in a photo of last night's party. In some situations, that kind of information could cost you a job.

With Friends Like These

No matter how much you love your friends and family, at least some of them likely have some little quirk, opinion or obsession that drives you absolutely insane. When you're with them in person, that tiny little thing is unlikely to crop up, and you can happily ignore it – yet visit their Facebook profile, and there's a chance it'll be right there for everybody, including you, to see. According to Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT, inhibitions are lower online, and things said through this medium can feel inconsequential. As a consequence, you may react badly – or the inverse might happen, with somebody reacting badly to something innocent posted on your profile. Either way, this can start an argument and cost you a relationship that would never have broken if not for Facebook.

Endless Distractions

For inveterate procrastinators, Facebook might just be the next best thing since sliced bread. According to Nielsen's 2012 report on social media, Americans spent a total of 121 billion minutes on social media in the period between July 2011 and July 2012, with almost three quarters of that time – 93 billion minutes – being spent on Facebook alone. There's always a reason to log in – the latest status update from your friends, endless funny images, and countless addictive games such as FarmVille and Words With Friends. These constant temptations make it much harder to focus on working or studying and can have a significant negative impact on your life.

Together Alone

Although Facebook's stated mission is "to make the world more open and connected," it may end up having the opposite effect, especially for insecure people. It's often easier to talk to somebody online rather than in person, or even on the phone; this can lead to people having a large amount of "friends" they don't really know and barely ever meet face to face rather than a smaller amount of real friends. A 2012 study carried out by social networking website Badoo found that one in three people spend more time talking with friends online than offline.

About the Author

Laurel Storm has been writing since 2001, and helping people with technology for far longer than that. Some of her articles have been published in "Messaggero dei Ragazzi", an Italian magazine for teenagers. She holds a Master of Arts in writing for television and new media from the University of Turin.

Photo Credits

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