Study: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram at risk for user decline because of toxic content

Despite anonymity giving us the freedom to benefit from limitless experiences, discussions, and connections online, the digital world has consumed us to the point where we might get a little too lost in online expression.

So are people taking advantage of today’s social media networks, and what are the resulting consequences?

The researchers at WhoIsHostingThis recently surveyed over 1,000 social media users about their struggles with platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They discovered that, in addition to negative commentary, over half of netizens believed internet trolls are the most annoying people on the web.

Know your social media audience

Character limits on Twitter and automatic story deletions on Snapchat force us to keep our expression to a minimum. However, your online history is still accessible, and it can come back to haunt you. Assuming that people won’t scroll through two years’ worth of tweets and uploads is a naive way of thinking. It’s a possibility and happens more frequently than people expect.

Likewise, who you portray online shouldn’t risk romantic and familial relationships. Over 1 in 3 people had blocked a friend because of controversial posts, and nearly 1 in 10 broke up with a partner because of their problematic content.

Don’t put yourself in a situation where an employer would be uncomfortable as well. Social media is frequently used to screen applicants, and a negative post isn’t worth losing respect over. Status updates, especially, draw unnecessary attention when people are openly combative toward minority and political groups. The research showed even 33% of liberals and 42% of conservatives said they dislike the internet because there’s an overpowering presence of politics.

It’s interesting to note that the likelihood of having a digital quarrel is largely impacted by gender and generation. In fact, 21% of male social media users versus 14% of female users found themselves in digital arguments. And millennials were the most prone to heated online debates, as well.

Bye for now

The main reason people have a hard time escaping social media’s negative energy is because we naturally want acceptance from others. But when it comes to online engagement, harmful and malicious comments are contributing to destructive user bases.

According to the study’s findings, 28% of internet users discontinued Facebook to move away from the negativity, while 32% deactivated Twitter, and a remarkable 33% left Instagram. Reddit, YouTube, and Snapchat rounded out the bottom of the list for online toxicity, suggesting these platforms see fewer online jabs and potentially damaging interactions.

The Internet’s Most Hated: Who Are The Most Annoying People Online?

Trendy movements like “Scroll Free September” or the occasional Facebook detox cleanse are easy fallbacks when you’re experiencing online toxicity and don’t want to delete a social media network entirely. Remember: We can customize our feeds to only show memes and news clips. Nobody should push their negative feelings and hateful messages into your safe space unless that’s what you’re after.

Don’t jeopardize your credibility

Celebrities and politicians make their way into the headlines when they share offensive posts and videos, and the average online user isn’t exempt from criticism, either.

Making a threat, participating in offensive/politically incorrect name-calling, and throwing insults are the top behaviors that can affect your credibility. Therefore, staying distant from the toxic noise helps uphold one’s reputation both online and in real life.

When ranting escalates into online hate

Online networks can serve as an outlet for bloggers, influencers, and advocates who happen to be passionate about specific issues. However, not all posts receive the same reactions.

Toxic comments, cyberbullies, and drama were the primary reasons netizens disliked the internet, so remain cautious when you’re ready to hit that “share” button.

With limited online regulations, we need to understand that society is particularly sensitive about hate speech.

What exactly is hate speech? This can range from abusive or prejudice statements against individuals solely because of their race, religion, or sexual preference. Defending your rights, therefore, should be done to an extent where others aren’t targeted.

A shocking 95% of people even agreed that online hate speech could encourage people to act out in real life. Sarcastic or not, online communities are quick to flag and report threatening activity.

Lasting digital connections

While most generations are overwhelmingly accepting of positive content, millennials also admitted to using their profiles to complain or rant. Younger generations are known for being self-expressive, so a happy medium of purpose and moral correctness is key.

Want to gain the support of your active followers? Habitual social media users said there’s certainly enough positive content to share – so try connecting with friends or family, share funny posts or stories, and highlight your personal accomplishments, stories, and goals.

Social media makes it easy to connect with an audience that might be on the other side of the world. Why would we want to ruin such a great opportunity?

Read next: The Right Way In Which Parents Can Address Cyber-bullying On Social Media (Infographic)
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