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On the Detrimental impact of Chain Letters on Social Networks

In the 90s, people found it fun to share chain letters. At the time, this was something new to many of us, so we found them fun. We received and then passed them on, but over the volume of chain letters become a torrent of spam. The letter is fun the first time you see it. If twenty people forwarded it to 20 more, then we’re speaking about four hundred e-mails. We’re speaking about thousands of letters that have no productive effect on society.

After a while people grew bored with chain letters, so they blocked them, or they told off the people sending those messages. In 2007 or so, when Facebook was still young and moral people started to share chain letters through this network, and at first they’re fun, and we fill them in, and we share that info with friends, and we look forward to them doing the same.

There are two issues with chain letters. The first of these is privacy. By filling in and sharing chain letters, we are providing a lot of personal information that we may not want others to know about us. Polls and other tools were used to gather information to influence elections in a variety of countries.

The second reason for which chain letters are unpleasant is that they produce noise. Social networks easily become very noisy, and it takes constant care and attention to ensure that they do not become too noisy. If you tolerate chain letters once, be assured that you will get twenty more within a few weeks. If you put a stop to them immediately, then you avoid noise.

My reason for using social media is to establish direct connections with individuals, not to fill in silly chain letters. I want to have an exchange of questions of answers. Without questions and answers, I could be reading a book, or a blog. If I devote time to being “as live” I want to interact as if we were conversing.

“If it’s not hurting anyone, then don’t comment on someone else’s conversation.” In the grand scheme of things I used a retweet, which means that I was speaking to my own community, not that person’s. Second, chain letters do harm someone. Me. Social media is not my toilet break from family life. Twitter is my family life, especially during a pandemic.

My message is simple. Don’t spam twitter or other social networks with chain letters. It may look harmless, but it isn’t.

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