*iStock photo
*iStock photo

Facebook turned 10 years old yesterday. Bermuda has reportedly 30,000 Facebook users and it is the granddaddy of all social media in Bermuda.

It’s allowed people to be more connected with old friends, allowed for discussion of issues as well as for the posting of photos and memes for people to enjoy.

While it brings people closer, it can also cause a disconnect where people post and say things they wouldn’t dare do to a person’s face.

Karriem Sharrieff is an independent multimedia developer and social media strategist through his brand exist.multimedia. He is also a co-founder of the Bermudian satire brand BERMEMES, where he is the web and social media director. 

He told the Bermuda Sun: “In the past 10 years, Facebook has moved from a small, collegiate-based social platform to a global connector that reaches one in every seven people on the planet. It has revolutionized an entire industry — digital marketing — and has become the most prevalent marketing tools in use today. 

“It has also forced us to ask difficult questions surrounding privacy, digital security and intellectual/property rights.” 

Mr Sharrieff said the Facebook platform allows developers to build upon and reach “far more people than they would have if they had to start from scratch and market their product independently. 

“It has permeated the lives of a majority of the first world and has even enabled third world nations to make their voice heard on a global scale when they would otherwise be suppressed by the powers that be. 

“Overall, Facebook has been one of the biggest game changers in humanity’s history and is quickly defining the digital age.”

Elizabeth Tee, managing director, for social media savvy Troncossi Public Relations, said Facebook has changed much over the past decade.

“Social media is no longer a new fad that only young people engage in,” she said. “It’s a part of everyday life. I know some people who only communicate via social media and have even abandoned their e-mail address. 

“It’s quite extraordinary to see the movement develop and quite exciting, really. Just like I check my e-mails and phone for messages several times a day, I check my Facebook and Twitter accounts to see what’s happening in the world, who’s ‘liked’ a post that I may have made and what my Facebook friends are thinking. 

Ms Tee said Facebook has changed the way people get their news.

“People share an astonishing amount of information. For example, although I didn’t watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, I knew that Denver fans weren’t happy with the way the Broncos played football. I also found out about Philip Seymour Hoffman dying on Sunday via social media.”

 She added: “From a PR perspective, companies that ignore this opportunity do so at their peril. 

She said Facebook is a marketer’s dream.

“But using social media as a marketing tool is very different from using traditional media. 

“It’s incredibly important that companies talk to their customers and fans in a way that they want to interact with them. 

“The reasons that consumers or clients follow companies on social media is because they like the brand and want to interact with it. 

“It’s important that companies speak to customers as if they’re having a conversation. 

“It’s very different writing than the more formal corporate writing that we do for many companies when interacting with traditional media.”

Police media relations spokesman Dwayne Caines says Facebook has been a double-edged sword of being able to communicate quickly, but it also has to battle false info.

The PR man knows what he is talking about as the Bermuda Police Service won a Tech Award in 2010 for its creative use of social media.

He said: Facebook and social media have changed the face of how the Bermuda Police Service communicates with the  general public. The BPS must now respond with critical information on an incident  immediately because the public has an insatiable appetite for news and news right away.  

“In the absence of the correct information false information  or half-truths will emerge and create even more challenges for  the BPS.  

“Anyone with a cellphone is now an I-reporter and they can communicate with their ‘hub’ or people in their  network of influence or, as they are called on Facebook, friends. One post can create a wave of misinformation that can undermine an investigation or a witness appeal.  

“So we have a duty to report accurate information as soon as it happens without jeopardizing an investigation. We update our Facebook and other social media sites daily or as the critical or important incidents  happen.”

Mr Caines said the BPS Facebook page allows them to communicate directly with their followers. “This gives us real time opinions and access to information. We anticipate in the next few years we will depend much more on social media and Facebook in particular. The BPS endeavours  to keep on the front line of communication and to effectively meet the needs of the community.”