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Summer Journal

Volume 27, Issue 3

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Risks and Benefits of Using Social Media

Written by  JOSEPH McMENAMIN July 8, 2010

The term “social media” refers to any Internet-based medium created through social interaction where individuals primarily produce (rather than consume) the content. The growth of social media has been explosive. An estimated two-thirds of Internet users visit social networking or blogging sites. Reportedly, social media now account for almost 10 percent of all Internet time. Facebook claims more than 400 million active users. Wikepedia, YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Google, and Twitter all seem to have different audiences, but each is large and growing. These media provide new and dramatically enhanced communication capabilities. Their speed and penetration offer particular value in coping with disasters, when information is often the coin of the realm. After a recent hurricane, for example, a hospital system used Twitter to provide breaking information about patient status and the number of patients admitted and released. In the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, a Facebook community emerged almost immediately


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