Cristina Martorell: “Social networks will be progressively integrated into other areas of our daily lives”
We discussed the impact of social networks during the coronavirus crisis with the lecturer of the subjects “Online Communities” and “Digital Marketing” courses at the UIC Barcelona Faculty of Communication Sciences.
There is no doubt that social networks have had an important role during lockdown. Information – and often misinformation – has largely been channelled through social networks, which have also served as an important point of support in the midst of the health crisis. Lecturer Cristina Martorell of the Faculty of Communication Sciences notes that all kinds of initiatives have emerged from social networks that have facilitated “contact with others” and have helped us to “feel less alone.”
In fact, social networks have enabled video calls with friends and family, virtual concerts or cultural events, support groups, help groups and more. Martorell affirms that networks have given emotional support to many people during lockdown: “We are social beings and the various platforms have helped to alleviate loneliness, especially among the most vulnerable groups.” In this regard, the lecturer has highlighted the initiative to donate tablets to older people in care homes, a government initiative aimed at enabling older people to be able to talk to and see their families during lockdown.
Risks and evolution
Even so, social media are a double-edged sword. They have been great broadcasters of fake news, and the most well-known website specialising in reporting fake news, Maldita.es, has recorded over 600 fake news stories during this health crisis. In addition, Cristina Martorell points to privacy as another issue to consider: “Networks have to ensure that users’ privacy is protected, especially for children and adolescents.” The lecturer stresses that education is “vital in combatting cyberbullying, network addiction, or disinformation: Problems that, although not inherent to networks, may have been amplified from different platforms.”
As for the future, Martorell explains that “it is difficult to anticipate the evolution of networks, because they have very short lifecycles and new ones emerge that outpace previous ones.” She also points to a change in trends that will be consolidated in the future: “Just over ten years ago, social media were only used to communicate with our friends, and today we can do shopping, share files, live stream, or find recommendations. Gradually, networks will increasingly become integrated in other areas of our daily lives.”