The World Wide Web is a system where diverse documents that include texts, videos, or multimedia are linked together and accessed through the Internet. The Internet has changed the modes of communication, trade, work, and our livelihood, which led to the Internet explosion. The Social Web is the major source of the Internet explosion by means of connecting people in diverse forms; it includes social networks, education, games, and shopping. The increase in the use of Social Web plays a vital role in the growth and development of society, but it also has its associated risks. Thus, this study will show that the Social Web has positive and negative effects on the society.
The global acceptance in the use of computers has made them less expensive as more families and schools can afford them; the rapid improvements in the manufacture of computers and accessories and the evolution of the Internet with the improvements of web browsers from Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, Internet Explorer, Mozilla, Safari to the current Chrome contributes to the universal Internet usage. Blogging, playing games, emailing, chat rooms, and social networking are the social Web technologies the 21st century youths spend most time on when online. With the entertaining and attractive interfaces of various social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Friendster, and Bebo, the sign up rates for these sites keep increasing.
According to the Cisco Visual Network Index (VNI) (2013), the world's data traffic grew from 520 petabytes per month at the end of 2011 to 885 petabytes per month by the end of 2012 with an increase of 70 percent. Their reports showed that the traffic of 885 petabytes per month by the end of 2012 was nearly twelve times greater than the total global Internet traffic in 2000 with 75 petabytes per month. With the fourth-generation (4G) connection, smartphones generated more data traffic with 342 MB per month in 2012 up from 189 MB per month in 2011. The report also predicted the explosion of data traffic 13–fold between 2012 and 2017 with the rising data traffic in mobile-connected tablets, laptops, and non-smartphones; by the end of 2013, the number of mobile connected devices will exceed the number of people on the Earth, and in 2017 there will be over 10 billion mobile-connected devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) modules – exceeding the world's population at that time.
The perks in the social Web are enormous; the era when communication with old pals or seeking lost contacts out through orthodox means is over, because there are various social networking sites where one can sign up and search out these lost contacts for reunion. The APS National Psychology Week Survey conducted in 2010 showed the positive effects of the social networking sites: they included staying in touch with friends, finding out what other people are doing, staying in touch with family, tracking and contacting new friends, general chatting with others, sharing information online with others, telling others your current status, inviting people to an event, making arrangements to meet someone, playing networking games, making new friends etc.
The conducted survey assessed the positive impacts of social networking on relationships. A larger percentage of the respondents indicated that social networking helped them stay in touch with people who live far away. The survey also showed that social networking helped people interact more both online and face-to-face; it made information sharing, meetings, and event planning more convenient. A lot of people who find socialization very difficult have developed a high-level friendship and socialization due to social networking. Some social network sites focus on connecting people through romance by encouraging dates or arranging intimate relationships by matchmaking for people online from 18 years to 50 and above.
In the article, Ybarra and Mitchell (2008) narrowed the negative impacts of the explosive growth of the Internet on the development and health of society. The article revealed that Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace accounts of youths have been sexually solicited or harassed; there is an attempt made by lawmakers to offer measures that will curb this victimization of young adults; however, without research and studies lawmakers are unaware of the effective safety measures. Therefore, this study provided the information on the negative impacts of social Web. As it was shown in the study, there are various ways of how people can be sexually harassed through major online activities such as chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking site, blogging etc.
A chat room is an online tool where public conversation is available for everyone interested to join any discussion and contribute to it; the conversations occur in real-time and are visible for anyone in the chat room. Youths are sexually solicited or harassed in such rooms, and chat rooms are considered unpleasant places that attract a lot of unpleasant personalities. Instant messaging (IM) is an application like a chat room that supports two or more people with the same service to interact with each other. The examples are the Whatsap, Nimbuzz, Badoo and others, as well as profiles that may include screen names and display pictures and thus can promote sexual solicitation and harassment. Blogs are individual journals posted online that state the moods or states of mind of individuals and are open for comments and as such create room for sexual solicitation and harassment. Social networking is becoming a favorite online activity among youths because it embraces most online facilities including IM, emailing. Most social networking sites include both real-time and off-line communication; social networking also creates opportunities for sexual solicitation and harassment of youths.
APS National Psychology Week Survey (2008) revealed that not all age classes make use of social networking sites. The reasons for this are as follows: loosing interest, having better options in real time and space, preferring face-to-face communication, bad experiences like sexual solicitation or harassment in the past.
The research emphasized the instances of developing an addiction to social networking and not having time to carry out other chores; the respondents indicated the instances of using personal information by other site members. Some respondents were unaware of the privacy settings on the social networking sites; this shows that they were not duly educated on the account protection modules the site had to offer to prevent them from victimization. Social network harassment has a major negative effect on the Internet society, and it takes various forms: sending rumors online about an account holder, sending threatening messages to the person’s email account, posting offensive words on a site or a web page, spreading humiliating pictures throughout the Internet, using private information of the account holder, making it public without prior consent of the account holder etc. The negative impact of the social Web is, however, unavoidable. Thus, careful usage of online privileges is important to avoid victimization.
In conclusion, one should say that social Web is a gift for mankind that enables it to communicate, exchange views, share information regardless of the differences in race and continent. The Social web provided an easy medium to enhance this global connectivity. However, every positive thing has its dark side, and it is important to take every possible step to reduce those. It is therefore important to introduce an approach that will focus on behaviors online and on the overall psychosocial profile of the individuals that use social in combination with certain technologies (privacy settings) that would prevent victimization. The users of social network sites should also endeavor to inform themselves on security options, be respectful, share the information that won't be harmful, and screen friends before accepting friend requests. The purpose of this study was to throw light on the impacts of social Web; it proved with valid details that social Web has both positive and negative effects on the society.