Mirror, Mirror, Facebook wall, Who's the prettiest of them all?

Social risks should be included in a risk analysis of Facebook.


Most of you will probably have Facebook. Facebook can be used in multiple ways: you could tell people you went on vacation, tell all your friends about your diploma or show your new haircut. You can even invite a group of friends to join a festival or invite people to your birthday. There is however another side to all of this. Let’s call it the dark side of Facebook. The dark side of Facebook consists of several social and societal risks which should be considered in a risk analysis.

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A risk can be defined as ‘The probability of something happening multiplied by the cost or benefit if it does’. A risk analysis consists of many different risks, but we will only look at a few social risks. Now when looking at social risks we will focus on a few examples: Narcissism and depression.

Facebook has increasingly become attached to our self-esteem, in a way it is our modern mirror.

The difference between this mirror and an ordinary one is that Facebook gives people a chance to present themselves in the most favourable way possible. This on its own is not a bad thing. However it creates some problems: one the one hand narcissism and on the other hand depression.


Facebook is considered a contributor to narcissism. Narcissism is characterized by feelings of grandiosity, by arrogance and vanity and, in most cases, by preoccupation with appraisals of others (Kauten, et al., 2015). Facebook enables all of these characteristics. For example Amy who places 25 selfies on her Facebook wall every day and is very preoccupied with receiving positive feedback. When Amy will gain appraisal, her online self-presenting behaviour will most likely increase. Also Amy will increase her own self-esteem even further by giving attention to her own Facebook wall (Pantic, et al., 2012).



The depression problem is amongst other reasons created because of people’s tendency to compare themselves with others. When someone compares the most favourable image of others to the realistic or even negative image of oneself this will create low self-esteem and feeling of loneliness. Low self-esteem, loneliness and depression enhance each other.






These examples show that social effects of Facebook could be severe. Social risks such as these must be considered in the risk analysis of Facebook. Social risks such as these can have a severe impact on multiple stakeholders. Two of those stakeholders are: Firstly the individual such as Amy, having to deal with the consequences on a daily basis. And secondly Facebook, which risk consists of reputational damage and potential legal risks in the form of lawsuits. Now considering all these risks I think that the legal and reputational benefits of avoiding damage will outweigh the costs of preventing the problem when including a cost-benefit analysis. It will be in Facebooks best interest to prevent potential harm and include social risks in the risk analysis.



List of References.

                Kauten, R. L., Lui, J. H. L., Stary, A. K., & Barry, C. T. (2015). “Purging my friends list. Good luck making the cut”: Perceptions of narcissism on Facebook. Computers in Human Behavior, 51, 244-254. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.05.010.

                Pantic, I., Damjanovic, A., Todorovic, J., Topalovic, D., Bojovic-Jovic, D., Ristic, S., Pantic, S.(2012) Association between Online Social Networking and Depression in High School Students. Psychiatia Danubina, 24, 90-93.