Anti-social networking? Two studies reveal disruptive nature of social media

By Chris Lee

One in ten (10 per cent) of Facebook users claim to have been the victims of abusive or insulting messages on social media, according to a new study. This figure rises to one quarter (25 per cent) of 18-24 year-olds and 16 per cent of 25-34 year-olds and includes insulting posts on their wall or menacing private messages.

The study by market research firm Global Market Insite Inc. (GMI) also found that abuse was thankfully not a frequent occurrence, with the majority of victims (61 per cent) saying that abuse had only happened “once or twice”. Some, on the other hand, are not so lucky, with eight per cent claiming they receive “anti-social” messages about once a month and three per cent more than once a month.

Anti-social media culprits

According to GMI’s research, the most likely culprits are people that the recipient knows in real life (62 per cent), although 27 per cent said the perpetrator was not even on their Facebook friends list.
In the world of social media most users are quick to act to prevent this happening again. Two thirds (65 per cent) respond by blocking the offender. 27 per cent use the Report link provided by Facebook. As well as taking advantage of the privacy settings (14 per cent), setting up a limited profile (six per cent), stopping using Facebook (five per cent) and closing their account (three per cent), while a plucky 14 per cent asked the perpetrator directly to stop.

Ralph Risk, GMI’s marketing director for Europe, said: "In the virtual world of social media people may feel it is easy and anonymous to send insulting or abusive messages to other users. Our research shows that most people on Facebook are currently able to tackle the problem themselves using the technology provided. The strength of social media has always been the opportunity to easily connect and interact with friends and groups, but to ensure its continued flexibility is not restricted by legislation, it is important that the ability to limit exposure to insulting and abusive messages is simple for users to control themselves.”

Twitter presents a different negative experience, according to GMI, with just five per cent of users reporting having received threatening, insulting or abusive tweets. GMI says this may be because half of respondents said they only had a Twitter account in order to follow others rather than engage.

Women make sacrifices for social media

According to another study out in the same week, women admitted to foregoing sex and chores to socially network. As a result the average woman can expect to spend 963 days on social networks (60 minutes each day) over the course of her lifetime, a full eight months longer than the average man, who will spend 723 days or just 48 minutes per day.

Inbound marketing agency Browser Media’s research found that people are willing to give up socialising and going out (14 per cent), sleep (10 per cent) and sex (eight per cent) in order to spend time on social networks. Watching television and films, chatting on the phone, reading and cooking also fall victim to social networking.

“Smart phones now mean that social networking is both a round the clock and on-the-go activity, with no need to stop until your device runs out of battery. Therefore it comes as no surprise that ‘social networking addiction’ has become a new twenty first century ailment, especially when individuals are giving up necessities such as sleeping and cooking,” commented Joe Friedlein, managing director, Browser Media.

For Friedlein, a key question is whether social media is seen as an enabler or an obstruction to everyday living.

“Gauging the opinions of other trusted friends and family about where to go on holiday or suchlike is much more efficient and effective via social networking sites for example than in person,” he added. “Much has been written about multi-screen usage such as using a combination of phones, tablets, computers and TVs but equally interesting is our ability to multi-task – using social networking sites when we are doing other tasks. Lots of brands are trying to vie for our attention in this space and the ones that are successful have a good instinct for how to pull up a chair at a digital table they haven’t necessarily been invited to sit at.”

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