The Psychology of Social Media

Whether it's Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, it's easy to see social media has a major influence on the world. But with all that information out there, how do you sift the good information from the bad?

"Content on social media can spread quickly in a matter of seconds," Dr. Joe Mazer of Clemson University said.

With just the click of a button, people from all over the world can share a picture, post a video and much more.

"Any social media has the potential to do really, really great things. It also has the potential to do really,really negative things," he said. "That's when it's in the hands of a user."

While you may only follow a few hundred friends on your respective social media account, Mazer's students monitor millions.

"We're working to train people to be more critical producers, so users of social media, but also consumers of the messages they see. And we do it here in the Social Media Listening Center," he said.

Mazer said social media isn't the culprit of mixed messages, it's the users who suffer from what he calls "problematic internet usage."

"Those individuals we learn are more likely to suffer from low self esteem, experience loneliness and have poor mental health, poor physical health," Mazer said.

Mazer said those characteristics plus easily accessible internet fuels posting false information

"Let's be honest, there's only so much information you could look at on the internet before you start to get creative," he said.

But with so much information on the internet, how are people still being bamboozled?

"Whether it's a photo they're reacting to or some other kind of graphic that kind of resonates with them in some way that causes them to retweet it, to comment on it, to spread the message even more, which again, has a ripple effect on people who would experience the same thing," Mazer said.

Mazer said it takes just a couple more clicks to find out the facts.

"You follow digital bread crumbs that are out there and you connect the dots to who's saying what and what messages are consistent, which ones are contradictory and conflicting and use that to develop an informed judgment," Mazer said.


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