Social networks facilitate interpersonal relationships, enhancing communication between people, and even help to (re)discover friendships lost over time. But we have to take into account that everything we do can be seen by someone.
You should therefore make sure you follow these three fundamental pieces of advice:
Because, if we compare social networks with real life, the potential for the spread of information (including harmful or malicious) is frankly higher, as is the speed with which it spreads. Because of all this, on social networks you must think very carefully before you speak about what you have, where you are or where you are going.
WHICH ARE THE MOST POPULAR SOCIAL NETWORKS IN 2020?
The most popular social networks in the world are: Facebook (with 2.5 billion users), Youtube and Whatsapp (with 2 billion users each), Instagram (with about 1 billion users), TikTok (with about 800 million users), LinkedIn (with 467 million), Twitter (with 386 million) and Pinterest (with about 366 million).
Social networks are designed to enhance interaction between people, allowing us to communicate with each other anywhere in the world. They are also excellent tools for keeping in touch with family and friends, creating groups with common interests and even selling products.
HOW TO JOIN A SOCIAL NETWORK
To join a social network, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok, you will have to register for the service (which is usually free). Registration involves the association of an email account and, in some cases, a telephone number, as well as some of the user’s personal details.
Once the registration is complete, the user can start using the service, posting, commenting and sharing content with their friends and/or followers.
Facebook is perhaps the world’s best-known social network with over 2.5 billion users. It was created in 2004 by founder Mark Zuckerberg and three other university colleagues.
The social network is free for users – who only have to register – but it generates profits of 18,485 million dollars (about 16,795 million euros), which means a decrease of 16% compared to 2018 (which was contributed to greatly by the fines imposed by several regulators for security breaches that involved improper and unauthorised sharing of user data, as was the case with Cambridge Analytica).
Facebook works with a “feed”, which is a kind of homepage, where our friends’ posts are displayed. Interactions can be made by commenting on the post or using the “like” button. In this social network, it is also possible to talk more privately via “Facebook Messenger”, play online games and buy products through the various “marketplaces”.
Instagram is a social network whose focus is the sharing of photos and videos, allowing its users to customise their content quickly and easily, by means of digital filters. It currently has more than one billion users.
Instagram was created by two colleagues, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who launched the social network in 2010, and was eventually acquired by Facebook for $1 billion in 2012.
In recent years, new features have been added (such as “Instastories”, which are photos or videos which are visible for about 10 seconds and only available for 24 hours) and the social network has started to invest more in targeted advertising, generating $20 billion in advertising revenues in 2019.
Snapchat is an application, available for Android and iOS, that allows you to share photos and videos (to which you can then add text and drawings), and each snap has a duration ranging from 1 to 10 seconds, which are then visible to friends for a set time.
Snapchat was created and developed by three US university colleagues (Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy and Reggie Brown) and was launched in 2011, having had a great acceptance, especially among young people, due to the ease, transformation and durability of sharing.
YouTube is a video sharing platform that was created in 2005 by three former PayPal employees (Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim) and access is free for all users (either via browser or via apps for Android and iOS systems). In 2006, Google acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion.
On this social network it is possible to watch all kinds of videos and subscribe to some channels / content producers (called Youtubers and who receive an amount of money for providing content according to the number of followers and views) to ensure that we do not miss any new uploads (including content about cars, comedy, culture or music, just to give some examples).
In recent years, YouTube has sought to expand the offer to its customers, with the launch of Youtube TV, YouTube GO, YouTube Music and YouTube Premium, which are paid services, and the year 2019 brought revenues exceeding 15 billion dollars.
TikTok is a social network of Chinese origin (the original version of which is called Douyin) launched in 2016 and which allows the creation and sharing of short videos (up to 60 seconds). The social network is owned by the Chinese technology company ByteDance and has about 800 million users worldwide.
The application allows its users to record videos (usually) of themselves and add background music to them, which can be accelerated or slowed down, and also be edited with various filters.
The app also allows everyone, or only friends, to comment or send messages, and those people can “react” or do a “duet” (which allows users to produce content based on another existing video, with both videos appearing side by side).
LinkedIn is a professional social network launched in 2003, which aims to create professional relationships, with a user description oriented to the business environment, thus allowing contact with professional colleagues and accompanying companies.
The main objective of this social network is to develop professional contacts and facilitate the exposure of the user’s academic and/or professional career, for new professional challenges or simply to connect with peers.
LinkedIn was acquired in 2015 by Microsoft, which paid around $26 billion and has more than 465 million users and an annual growth of 19%.
Twitter is a free social network that allows users to send and receive updates of the users they follow. A user can only write texts up to 280 characters (before 2019 they were limited to 140) which are called “tweets”.
Twitter thus works as a kind of microblogger, as the interaction is limited to little more than following and “retweeting” the publications viewed (i.e. replicating a particular post from a user to the list of their own followers, giving credit to the original author).
Pinterest is a social network dedicated to fashion and lifestyle that was launched in 2010 and allows the users to share images about their interests (including clothes, accessories, animals, hobbies, etc.) that can then be managed and/or stored in collections or on boards.
This social network is thus used to share, store, classify and manage images (here called “pins”) and other multimedia content which are then grouped into collections known as “pinboards” (where they are classified into different categories such as fashion, electronic products, etc.).
Among the social networks with more distinct characteristics, we find the so-called chat applications, which have a more private use (such as Whatsapp, Viber or Telegram) or a traditionally more professional use (like Meets, Zoom or Teams).
The purpose of these apps is to facilitate communication, by sending written messages, sharing images or videos and making videos or teleconferences. The covid-19 pandemic was a very significant catalyst for many millions of consumers who had to learn how to use these platforms in order to continue working or talking to family and friends.
Whatsapp is by far the best known of these social communication networks, allowing its users to send electronic messages, videos and make voice and video calls. It was launched in 2009 and is currently available on all platforms (from Android to iOS, through Windows and Blackberry). In 2014 it was acquired by Facebook for about $16 billion.
Whatsapp is really easy to use by downloading the application from the official digital stores (Play Store on Android and App Store on iOS), installing it on your smartphone and creating an account (which will use the user’s phone number and synchronise with the contacts on their device). Then you just interact with your contacts.
Viber is a personal communication application very similar to Whatsapp. Through this app users can send and receive text and voice messages, as well as send images and videos. It was launched in 2010.
Telegram is another communication app, which has many similarities with Whatsapp and Viber, but whose focus is speed and security (through the encryption of conversations), thus seeking to ensure a more reserved communication experience. Telegram was launched in 2013.
Google Meet is a video communication service developed and launched by Google in 2017 and which is described by the US technology giant as a simple and professional version of the Google Hangouts service (whose replacement has been being developed since 2019).
This service offers users the possibility to access meetings/ videoconferences both via Internet/Web and via the apps of the Android and iOS operating systems, with clear advantages of integration and synchronisation with other Google services (such as Calendar) and guaranteed encryption of all calls.
In April 2020 this service was used by over 200 million people worldwide, and the free mode allows the simultaneous participation of 100 users (which compares with the 250 limit in the G-Suite and 25 in the Hangouts), being limited to 60 minutes (from September 2020). To use Meet, all you need is a Google account.
Zoom is a remote teleconferencing service, launched in 2013, which includes videoconferencing, online meetings and mobile collaboration. The free version of the video conferencing service allows the simultaneous use of 100 participants, but is limited to a limited to a 40-minute time frame.
The covid-19 pandemic has triggered more than 67% of Zoom usage, and has been the system of choice for schools and businesses to continue their activity (either online classes or remote meetings).
Teams is a communication and interpersonal collaboration platform that was launched in 2016 by Microsoft and is aimed at videoconferencing, document sharing, data storage and integration with Microsoft systems.
Microsoft announced that Teams reached 44 million users in April 2020 and, because of the covid-19 pandemic, the technology company now offers Teams free to schools and non-profit organisations.
Skype is an Internet communication service, launched in 2003. Skype was acquired in 2005 by eBay (for $2.6 billion) and in 2011 it was sold again, this time to Microsoft (for about $8.5 billion). It is the most popular remote communication system and has about 560 million users worldwide.
Skype is a system that enables internet communications, including voice or video calls, for free. Skype is offered in two modes: Skype (for individual users) and Skype for Business (more business oriented).
WHAT IS FAKE NEWS
Fake news are false or sensational stories that appear to be true news or stories, and they are spread via the Internet (especially through social networks) for the purpose of influencing (emotionally or politically) people or reputationally harming something or someone.
According to the Portuguese Press Association (API), there are dozens of sites (estimated to be between 40 and 50) producing fake content (known as “fake news”) in Portugal. Then there are also fake profiles and groups on social networks (especially Facebook), helped by their own software, which disseminate them.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FAKE NEWS (WHICH ARE VERY COMMON ON SOCIAL NETWORKS
But it is important to keep in mind that these are just a few strategies and that they are not, in themselves, bulletproof, so internet users should be attentive to all signs and act with maximum reserves.
Step by step on Facebook: “i” button in the bottom right corner of the photo: