Friday, April 13, 2012

Latinos Use Social Media More (And Wisely)

There is a new report out today by uSamp which shows Latinos continue to flock to social media, with more than 90 percent of those surveyed saying they regularly use services like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to stay connected, build communities and surf for news.

This is not the first report which has shown that Latinos seem more interested in using social media than other demographic groups, but it is the first to show definitively that they are more careful how they use it. For instance, according to the uSamp survey a little over half of the Latino participants they spoke with were willing to use their real names on social media, compared with almost 90 percent for non-Latinos.

This reticence to reveal too much personal information via social media is something more commonly seen in groups which are new to social media. They fear sharing because they are unsure what results they will receive from the sharing. But Latinos has consistently been among the most active social media users, so they should understand how sharing works.

Perhaps then their dis-interest in sharing personal information comes not from fear of the unknown but in knowledge of how costly this sharing can be. The cost stems not only from identity thieves, as some fear, but also in repercussions felt from specific posts, Tweets or comments. They have seen what can happen when the wrong message goes viral and wisely have chosen to avoid such confrontations by masking their identity.

There is certainly nothing wrong with caution. In my opinion anonymity does not diminish the full impact and value of social media. It should not be a mask we use to disguise ourselves, however, but a shield we use to protect ourselves from retribution. Many employers, governments, agencies and even individuals have used social media as a weapon against those whose opinions they disdain. They actively seek out differing opinions and raise armies of discontent against the individuals who express them.

Social media is undeniably the world's most powerful communication tool. Unfortunately the humans who live here are not quite ready for a forum where everyone is entitled to their opinion. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes this. Fortunately, it seems Latinos do, but they're cautious about how they do it.

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