Social media as a effective tool in raising awareness in society


Social media is defined as “a collection of Internet-based apps that build on the conceptual and technological roots of Web 2.0 and enable the production and interchange of User Generated Content.” Any online platform that enables users and audiences to generate content and interact with one another is considered social media (Walsh et al., 2021). Online technologies have the ability to reach vast areas of the citizenry and may portray primary mediums for encouraging action to protect the environment and promote healthy living. Social media is being used to raise awareness, raise voices, and push for social change. It gives individuals access to a degree of communication that previous generations did not have. People can now quickly call out wrongdoing and injustices on social media and have a voice in a variety of scenarios. In this paper, I will be augmenting about how social networks are a catalyst for social awareness and how they have brought about change in society,

Environmental education relies heavily on increasing the general public’s ecologically friendly behavior. However, many individuals are unsure, powerless, or ill-equipped to act on complicated environmental concerns such as climate change. Nonetheless, individual, and communal effort is required to aid in the preservation of natural settings and the mitigation of environmental challenges. Web 2.0 and social media technologies are a collection of leadership and organizational tools that are gaining popularity due to their ability to increase environmental awareness and encourage sustainable behavior in the general population (Ballew et al., 2015). The Paris Accord, signed by 195 countries in December 2015, was the first worldwide, legally enforceable agreement on addressing the detrimental effects of climate change. The deal was regarded as a big success all throughout the world. The effectiveness of the Paris accord was rapidly compromised by the US administration’s decision to withdraw from the pact in 2017. Following the news, there was a massive international response expressing different views and adding further layers to both support and suspicion in the climate change process. However, while governments have struggled to come together and act in harmony, global CO2 emissions climbed by 2% in 2018 , and greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have been continuously rising for seven consecutive years. With a feeling of urgency and following the news on social platforms, several bodies around the world have taken the initiative in their own hands. Large corporations have pushed to invest in low-carbon alternatives and have modified their old ways of working; the public has been more active in examining company operations and more demanding of manufacturers, increasingly preferring for items created in a more sustainable manner. Local governments in certain areas have also stepped in to assist green projects and have committed to combat the consequences of climate change (Mavrodieva et al., 2019). The informative functions of technology may be best suited to the purpose of raising awareness about a certain environmental concern. According to studies, increasing use of internet technologies to transmit information (e.g., frequent blogging) is connected with higher consumption of knowledge material. Environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs) make use of a number of technologies (for example, Facebook pages, YouTube videos, and Twitter accounts) to increase exposure, create awareness, and disseminate essential information and resources. Technologies that enable images to be shared and uploaded (for example, Instagram, Facebook, blogs, and Twitter) should be more successful and engaging than text-only technologies (Ballew et al., 2015).

Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook play an important part in disaster management. Twitter is the fourth most preferred site for obtaining emergency information. According to Mickoleit (2014), government institutions are adopting social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to interact with their constituents. Twitter accounts have been established in 24 of the 34 The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member nations, compared to 21 of the 34 for Facebook. Many studies have been conducted to investigate the systematic usage of social media during emergency response by extracting social media data to assess the requirements of a disaster-affected population). In 2016, the flood in Louisiana destroyed about 60,000 dwellings. It was the deadliest natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012. A few of communities in Louisiana used social networking sites to provide emergency information to those affected by the tragedy. The city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, proactively used social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to send real-time disaster information to affected residents in a timely way (Kim & Hastak, 2018). Furthermore, research have observed that social media can be used to raise donations after social disasters. Lobb et al. (2012) discovered that television had a significantly bigger influence in this regard during the 2010 Haiti earthquake crisis, but a Twitter campaign did generate a significant reaction from public contributors. It was discovered that the American Red Cross got $8 million in donations in 48 hours only through text texts. Lobb et al. (2012) saw a fast increase in donations immediately following the tragedy, when news coverage remained high, and then a slow, consistent fall as coverage decreased and disappeared (Alexander, 2013). However, social media concerning disaster risk management do have a dark side. Rumor spread is not to be ignored, nor is the distribution of inaccurate or misleading information, whether done mistakenly or on purpose. Anyone who doubts the ability of the Internet to distribute erroneous information could enter “earthquake prediction” into a search engine. The resultant sites include a mix of those that provide factual scientific information and others that are based on extremely controversial, and in some cases completely unscientific, assumptions and procedures. However, charlatan-run websites frequently have the same aesthetic effect, and so apparent validity, as reputable scientific websites. According to Castillo et al. (2011, p. 675), immediately after the 2010 earthquake in Chile, when data from official sources was lacking, various rumors uploaded and re-posted on Twitter contributed to an increase in the sense of confusion and fear among the local populace.” Another example is the large rise in social media activity following Hurricane Sandy, which hit the United States’ Atlantic coast at the end of October 2012. There is no doubt that social media enabled a significantly improved information exchange between authorities and the public, as well as between members of the public, but at a significant expense. People who uploaded images of the storm frequently utilized Photoshop-style image modification. Exaggerated and fake news items, such as which New York City locations were flooded, were shared, and reposted by so many social media users that they were picked up by mainstream media and assumed the status of factual reports until they could be dismissed by field checking (Alexander,2013).


Another social subject that has been greatly improved thanks to online networks is health services. The usage of social media for health purposes is quite frequent. An approximate of  80% of American internet users have looked for online health information, including material from social media sites, and 57% of those with chronic diseases have used social media to locate information and support for their illness. Social media is being used in communication tactics by health providers all around the world. A survey of general and medical hospitals in the United States found that more than 99 percent had a Facebook, Foursquare, and/or Yelp account. A comparable survey of tertiary centers and hospitals in China found that 76.2 percent of them used the Chinese social media sites Sina Weibo or WeChat. Health-related social media use can boost consumer-to-consumer and provider-to-consumer assistance, improve self-management of conditions, enhance consumer access to data, foster more equal relationships between health professionals and patients, and improve data collection for health services (Walsh et al., 2021). One of the health issues targeted by social media today is suicide. According to the World Health Organization, suicide is one of the top ten causes of death. Every year, an estimated 16 million suicide attempts are made. Approximately 800,000 individuals will die as a result of these attempts. Suicide fatalities have climbed by 24% in the last 20 years, making suicide one of the top ten causes of death in the United States, a tendency that appears to be consistent across the country. Not only is the extent of the problem vast and growing, but little progress has been achieved in understanding suicide and improve health outcomes in at-risk persons during the last 50 years. Facebook, in particular, has made headlines recently with the introduction of an automated suicide prevention  algorithm. Facebook claims “pattern recognition” algorithms developed on community flagging of postings containing suicidal language. Two issues are worth noting here: Facebook does not reveal details about the underlying system or the human screening process, and Facebook users cannot opt out of this initiative (without leaving the Facebook platform) (Coppersmith et al., 2018). However, in the field of health care, the use of social media platforms is not without hazards. As numerous situations in social media demonstrate, material transmitted via social media platforms can contain high degrees of self-disclosure (e.g., a patient disclosing details about her chemotherapy treatment). The fundamental constraint of health information available on social media, like with traditional internet media, is a lack of quality and dependability. Problems such as the unknown identity of medical writers of medical material available on social networking platforms are frequently unknown or identifiable with little information, posing a risk to the validity and trustworthiness of the information being given. As frequent users of social media, healthcare professionals may face unfavorable consequences as a result of their presence on such sites. With the rise of social media and worldwide hacking, the possibility for the transmission of private information as a result of a breach offers a far bigger risk to patients. A lack of clarity about privacy in the social media context and health-care organizations might jeopardize patients’ freedom and the therapeutic relationship of trust (Charalambous, 2019).


In this paper, we have seen how social media acts as a form of communication to raise awareness and distribute Information concerning important social subjects such as climate change, disaster risk management and health services and issues like suicide. we can see that increased communication and trans-nationalization of climate measures has compelled leaders to consider more thoroughly incorporating climate change solutions, has aided in the propagation of low-carbon regulation methods and technologies around the world, and is encouraging a significant attention in innovative global solutions, Furthermore, Social media platforms have enormous possibilities for contact with the public as well as monitoring of the people’s concerns. They have considerably expanded the reach, volume, and speed with which information is exchanged, although there have been some  hazards, most of which are related with the spread of false or misleading information. Finally, we have shown how social media detects people at risk of suicide using algorithmic study and how it has enormous potential for spreading health-related information since it provides a forum for the public, patients, and health professionals to communicate ideas on various health issues.


Reference list

Alexander, D. (2013). Social Media in Disaster Risk Reduction and Crisis Management. Science And Engineering Ethics20(3), 717-733.


Ballew, M., Omoto, A., & Winter, P. (2015). Using Web 2.0 and Social Media Technologies to Foster Proenvironmental Action. Sustainability7(8), 10620-10648.


Castillo, C., Mendoza, M., & Poblete, B. (2011). Information credibility on Twitter. In Proceedings of the 20th International Conference on World Wide Web, 28 March1 April 2011. Hydrerabad, India, International World Wide Web Conference Committee, pp 675–684.


Charalambous, A. (2019). Social Media and Health Policy. Asia-Pacific Journal Of Oncology Nursing6(1), 24-27.


Coppersmith, G., Leary, R., Crutchley, P., & Fine, A. (2018). Natural Language Processing of Social Media as Screening for Suicide Risk. Biomedical Informatics Insights

14 thoughts on “Social media as an effective tool in raising awareness in society

  1. Jennifer Thomas says:

    Hi Marie

    Enjoyed your paper, what an interesting way of looking at how we use communication as a beneficial tool in todays society. For society to change to making positive uses of social media is such as in times of need such as disaster, is a real plus.
    It would be great if ever it could be designed an algorithim to pick up on those that want to cause havoc with this tool in spreading maliase and scam and false information around the world

    • Marie Adriana Oceane Sophie Vilmont says:

      Hi jennifer,
      Thank you for your feedback. and i totally agree. Because today many of us cannot make the difference betweenfake and real information.

  2. Raymond Louey says:

    Hi Marie,
    Interesting exploration of social media, thanks for the read.
    The speed and spread of social media is amazing, it is a shame that sometimes the message it carries can be detrimental. The issues is that the truth will never be faster than a lie, and being first is crucial in sculpting public perception.
    The Facebook suicide algorithm concerns me a little. Mental illness is a tricky health problem, letting a non-medical professional make diagnosis seems like a disaster waiting to happen. What drove them to make this change? Was there public pressure for Facebook to address suicidal comments on their platform?

    I talk about the ability for social media to raise awareness in my own paper, but how it also struggles to transform that into tangible change. I would love to hear your thoughts:

  3. Sean Donnelly says:

    Hi Marie,
    While I had done my own research on the benefits social media can have on communication during times of crisis such as environmental disasters, I had never considered how beneficial it can be to health services. Reading how suicide prevention systems have been implemented on Facebook was really interesting and something I hope can be developed more in the future. I found it interesting that some would use these times of crisis as a way of spreading false information with edited images, so should there be a way to limit how much mainstream media relies on social media for its information?

  4. Hi Marie,

    An interesting read. In regards to using social media platforms for official communication, do you think there is significant risk in private companies distributing official communications? Given all the censorship debate over false information around COVID-19 vaccines, when does the line get drawn that a free speak platform becomes a regulated one and do you think peak industry bodies (such as WHO) or governments should be the regulators?

    Also with the private majority purchase of twitter by Elon Musk, it can be foreseen that private ownership of these platforms can change in a heartbeat. Who do you think should regulate the sales/ownership?

  5. Michael Connolly says:

    Hey Marie,

    Really interesting paper, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I am really curious to hear your perspective on people using social media as an avenue for information. You said that around 57% of people with chronic illnesses used social media for more information on their diseases. In my opinion that is an alarming statistic purely down to how much misinformation there is on social media, specifically Twitter.

    Do you believe that social media can be blamed for unwell people attempting different treatments or remedies that they’ve read online? Or is it more of a case of people being asinine when reading social media?

  6. Brenda Lee says:

    Hi Marie,

    What a good insight! I agree that social media is a very powerful tool that can definitely affect society. Though I would like to know more about your opinion from a different point of view. Social media is a platform where anyone can share informations easily, even hoax. In some cases, people can also share a misleading information and or biased in a testimony or posts. In my personal opinion, direct verbal conversations will be the most trusted and credible information to raise awareness because I know who share that information and whether that person is trustworthy or not. Do you think that social media will still be a better solution to raise awareness rather than face to face or direct verbal communication? Thank you!

    • Marie Adriana Oceane Sophie Vilmont says:

      Hi Brenda !
      yeah, i see your point and i agree. Personally, i think that everything has its bad sides. It is also our job to check sources and make sure that the informations are credible. And i do think social media is more powerful than face to face when it comes to sharing, tagging and hashtags which increases the reach in a more efficient and faster way.


  7. Veronica Hall says:

    Hi Maria,
    I enjoyed your paper highlighting social media networks positively.

    You make a point about disaster management and emergency information. If you are studying in Australia, you have probably come across this report on the use of Facebook and Twitter during the 2011 Queensland floods and how vital these platforms were in distributing information to communities during this time

    From a personal experience during the 2019 bushfires in the NSW coastal town Malua Bay, I know that a Facebook community that was distributing up to the minute advice was the only reason some people managed to leave before the fires hit. For many residents, there was no phone service during this time

    Social media has also played a vital role in keeping communities connected with the recent floods in QLD and NSW. Without these essential networks, many of these residences would not have had access to up-to-date information and rescue services that were potentially lifesaving.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention 🙂

    Veronica 

    • Marie Adriana Oceane Sophie Vilmont says:

      Hi Veronica !
      Thank you for reading for sharing your experience. I personally (Thankfully !) never got to experience this and i was glad you shared yours with me.


  8. Liv Hopkins says:

    Hi Marie, interesting paper you have written!

    Through your research it definitely shows how powerful and impactful social media is and the statistics you provided us with are very thought provoking.

    In terms of how social media has been utilised to raise awareness of suicide prevention, I remember a year ago, men/boys were posting on their Facebook a picture of them and holding up a symbol to raise awareness. I would love to know your thoughts on if you remember this/think it is an effective scheme?

    My paper also follows a similar theme to yours and explores how the minority group Indigenous Australians can utilise social media platforms to promote and raise awareness of their cultural traditions, customs and also participate in online resistance.

    Thanks, Liv

    • Marie Adriana Oceane Sophie Vilmont says:

      Hi LIv! Thank you so much for your feedback.
      i do not recalll it but i will surely go and look about it. concerning facebook specifically i read that in  In 2017,they began using machine learning in various countries to improve their capacity to identify potential suicide and self-injury material and provide immediate assistance to those in need. This system detects suspected suicide or self-injury material by using signals such as words in postings and worried comments from friends and relatives. Depending on the nature of the content, it may be escalated for further examination by members of our Community Operations team, who may opt to take additional measures, such as suggesting that you call emergency services.

  9. Gavin Tang says:

    Hello Marie!
    I really enjoyed your paper which consists of many interesting points.

    Had great insights into it.


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