So grateful was a man that Facebook enabled the Egyptian youth to mobilise at Tahrir Square on January 25 that he named his daughter after the popular social networking site. Telenor’s marketing director, Usman Javed, said that odd baby names are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the power of social media.
At the seminar on Tuesday, Javed discussed how Facebook has fundamentally altered not just the way we communicate, but behave as well. He then showed a clip which contained a plethora of interesting statistics about social media, including the fact that if all of Facebook’s users were to comprise a country, it would be the third most populous one on the planet. The clip also contained a quote by American columnist Erik Qualman, who said, “We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media – the question is how well we do it.”
Javed also discussed how social media has morphed the marketing industry and the way in which people promote their products. Some telecommunication companies have even started projects to provide internet access to underprivileged students in rural areas via mobile phones. “The quickest and easiest way to get someone to use the internet is through a smart phone.” Though Javed did not endorse any particular smart phone, he was optimistic that the gadgets would take Pakistan into a new era of social media usage.
The next person to take the stage was the chief of The Home Shopping Network, Shayaan Tahir. The site has become a popular stop for people looking to purchase the latest gadgets that come out of Silicon Valley and other hot spots for technology development. “I started the business out of my bedroom at a young age.” He now has three retail outlets throughout Pakistan and a staff of around 50 people. “I have benefited from social media a lot and I’m still learning from it every day.”
The flip side
But there is a dark side to social media as well. The head of CcureIT, Ateeq Khan, said, “There is too much information on the internet which can fall into anyone’s hands.” Hackers can not only steal your identity, but deceive you online. “The more technology grows, so do the risks.”
Khan spoke about ‘robot networks’ (BOTNETS) which have become a serious threat to users of social media. “If you think that installing anti-viruses and malware agents is going to save you, you’re wrong.” He added that unless people become aware of the threats, they will provide a safe haven to hackers and identity thieves. “I don’t believe in online privacy at all any more.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2012.