While it was invented to facilitate sharing pictures of cats, it turns out social media has all sorts of other applications. Some of the most useful are in health care, where social media can help individuals change unhealthy behaviors by letting them participate in online support groups with other people dealing with the same issue.
It's no secret that for many viewers, the most interesting part of the Super Bowl is the ads, ranging from comical to cloyingly sentimental, just weird to puzzling. This year more than ever, conversations about the ads will take place online.
Social media plays a "huge role" in recruiting aspiring jihadists from Europe to fight in Syria, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union's counter-terrorism coordinator. Young men post pictures of themselves in combat regalia to encourage others to join.
The value of traffic referred to retail sites by social-media platforms soared in the fourth quarter, with triple-digit percentage increases for sites like Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest.
Social media appears to be contributing to a big increase in the prevalence of eating disorders among children and teenagers over the last few years
Most U.S. social network users would be willing to share information about their health conditions online in order to help improve care, provided that adequate safeguards are in place to guard their privacy
Amid growing concern about the negative effects of cyber-bullying, including suicides attributed to online harassment, Australia's government is considering introducing new regulations for social media sites. The could significantly impact the business of companies like Facebook and Twitter Down Under.
Facebook may be headed toward the same unhappy fate as its predecessors, Friendster and MySpace, according to a provocative new study from researchers at Princeton's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, who predict that Facebook will lose 80% of its user base by 2017.
While adoption rates have lagged so far, social media will be an important tool for investor relations in the near future,. Overall, 56% of institutional investors surveyed said that social media was "not yet significant but growing in importance" as a professional tool.
Perhaps the nastiest phenomenon of social media is online bullying, which has been blamed for a number of suicides and a great deal of adolescent misery in general. To combat this antisocial plague researchers with the MIT Media Lab's Software Agents Group have developed an algorithm that can detect bullying based on linguistic patterns.