Is social media your friend or a frenemy?

A “frenemy” is a combination of “friend” and “enemy” – a person you are friendly with but ultimately do not like or trust.

Looking at the numbers from our NBC/Wall Street Journal poll earlier this year, many Americans may see social media as more of a frenemy than friend. Only 36% have a favorable opinion of Facebook (33% unfavorable and 28% neutral). 24% have a favorable opinion of Twitter (27% unfavorable and 40% neutral). The chart below shows some other highlights from this survey.

After a few years of Facebook getting hammered for privacy concerns and not regulating bots or the spread of false information, news stories about cyberbullying and data leaks, it’s not surprising that many adults have a low opinion of social media platforms.

But does this mean we’re all going to delete our accounts and boycott social media?

No, not really. According to the same NBC/WSJ poll and a Pew Research Center survey from earlier this year (https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/10/share-of-u-s-adults-using-social-media-including-facebook-is-mostly-unchanged-since-2018/) about 7 in 10 adults use social media – 69% in the NBC/WSJ poll use it daily. Pew Research Center reports the percentage of people who say they use various social media platforms is virtually unchanged since 2016 aside from an uptick among Instagram users (user numbers for all platforms grew steadily before then, hitting a plateau in 2016). And, remember, between fake news and privacy concerns, there hasn’t been much positive coverage on Facebook or any other social media platform since 2016.

But social media can’t be all bad, otherwise we wouldn’t use it. For a lot of us, social media has become a huge part of our lives, allowing us to share special events and our daily thoughts with people down the street or across the world. We share pictures of our kids or our vacation, talk about politics or our favorite shows, and plan parties and campaign events. From MySpace to Facebook to the dozens of newer sites being used today, we are just too accustomed with communicating this way to give it up.

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