Facebook changed the face of social media in a way that can be described as astounding. By December 30th of 2004, less than a year after Mark Zuckerberg released the Facebook onto the World Wide Web, Facebook had a million users. Only shortly after Facebook was released to high school students and then the general public to create the largest social media site on the Internet. Facebook is the main thing people associate with social media and is the 2nd most visited website on the Internet, according to Alexa.com, only behind Google. Facebook’s influence extends beyond its own site to recent acquisitions, which include Instagram and WhatsApp. WhatsApp is an instant messaging tool mostly used for communication between people in different regions because it is internet-based messaging. Instagram, which is the sixth most popular social media site according to Alexa.com, is a tool used to share and edit photos. Facebook is working towards becoming as large as Google, whose influence has built beyond that of a search engine to a functioning social networking tool that includes e-mailing, instant messaging, photo and profile sharing, and much more. (Poynter.)
Looking at Facebook’s influence can better answer the question of why social media is as important as it is today. Facebook was followed by the creation of Youtube in 2005, Twitter in 2006 and Pinterest in 2010. Among the top six social networking sites on Alexa.com only LinkedIn was developed before Facebook in 2003, and LinkedIn is used strictly for professional-based interactions between employers, employees and those looking for a job. The foundations of LinkedIn are different from the above sites, which focus on connecting and interacting in all forms. (View From IT). Overall, social media makes up a significant portion of the websites that are most trafficked (Alexa.com). Social networking continues to remain an integral part of our daily lives.
Even looking beyond the Internet social media extends to cell-phone usage. Applications like Instagram and Vine undoubtedly receive a lot more traffic on phones than they do on the Internet since they are mainly made for mobile devices. Beyond our computers social media plays into every aspect of our lives; it has become a go-to tool for connection. A PewResearch study revealed that among the Millennial generation the average number of Facebook friends is 250. Out of that number, how many are actually genuine friends that users communicate with outside of social media? – Probably a lot less than 250. Yet, society obviously feels the need to validate relationships on social media based on the popularity of social media. Friends must be added on Facebook, or followed on Twitter. Romantic relationships must be defined in a profile; pictures must be tagged and liked for relevance. This is how social media functions; without this then profiles just become irrelevant pages with no real application
Social media is no light matter, of the amount of adults online in the United States, 73% are social media users (PewResearch). That is only within the adult age range. 93% of teenagers from age 12-17 use the Internet (PewResearch). 5 million Facebook users are under ten years old (Social Media Today). Obviously social media has become increasingly accessible to the younger generations. At the rate that social media is growing it will probably become as relevant to society as the Internet itself. Social media has already made itself a formidable force on the cell-phone, encouraging the immersion of technology into daily lives by allowing people to download applications onto phones, and making certain applications only available on updated phones. In this way social media is influencing the technology race.
Modern society has become defined by accessibility. It is important to have access to information, people, jobs, etc. With society so used to having everything made available to them with a simple swipe on a smart-phone it doesn’t seem ridiculous that social media is an important part of daily Internet usage.