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Social media a marriage killer in China: Experts

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Beijing: While social media was designed to bring people together, it can sometimes drive them apart — more Chinese people are switching their status from married to single and social media could be responsible, say experts.

A report by the ministry of civil affairs in June found that 3.637 million couples divorced in 2014, up by 3.9 percent from the previous year, Xinhua reported.

Statistics from the ministry show the country has been witnessing a continuous rise in divorces since 2002.

Su, a white collar worker from Shanghai, was stunned and furious after discovering her husband’s secret romances online.

She found he viewed dating websites, and was in touch with many girlfriends on different social networks. Some relationships were more than a decade old, long before they got married.

“Since we have a child, I will not consider divorcing. But our relationship is dead,” she told Xinhua.

A man, requesting anonymity, said he uses social networks to look for dates while on business trips.

Yu Kun, a Beijing-based psychologist, said among all extramarital affairs of his clients, about half of them were initiated through the internet.

But most experts said social media generally only affects relationships that were already strained.

In some cases, social networking apps can be a tool in dismantling an already fragile marriage, according to Chen Yiyun, an expert from the marriage and family research institute under the All-China Women’s Federation.

Social media is never the root cause of divorce, said Han Junmei, a commentator on www.workercn.com.

“Incompatibility undermines marriages and social networks just increases the possibility of breaking up,” she wrote.

Social media is not the only factor behind the rising divorce rate. The younger generation’s attitude toward marriage has also changed.

“In the past, people were more conservative and saw it as a shame to get divorced,” marriage consultant Shu Xin said.

“Nowadays, people care more about the quality of marriage and are more willing to break social norms for the sake of happiness.”

(IANS)

 

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Facebook Expands Its Feature Showing Local Information

Facebook uses software filters to weed out objectionable content, just as it does on people's regular news feed.

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A smartphone user displays a Facebook newsfeed .VOA

Facebook is cautiously expanding a feature that shows people local news and information, including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements.

Called “Today In,” the service shows people information from their towns and cities from such sources as news outlets, government entities and community groups. Facebook launched the service in January with six cities and expanded that to 25, then more. On Wednesday, “Today In” is expanding to 400 cities in the U.S. — and a few others in Australia.

The move comes as Facebook tries to shake off its reputation as a hotbed for misinformation and elections-meddling and rather a place for communities and people to come together and stay informed.

Here are some things to know about this effort, and why it matters:

Facebook
A Facebook logo is displayed at a start-up companies’ gathering in Paris, France. VOA

The big picture

It’s something users have asked for, the company says. Think of it as an evolution of a “trending” feature the company dropped earlier this year. That feature, which showed news articles that were popular among users, but was rife with such problems as fake news and accusations of bias.

Anthea Watson Strong, product manager for local news and community information, said her team learned from the problems with that feature.

“We feel deeply the mistakes of our foremothers and forefathers,” she said.

This time around, Facebook employees went to some of the cities they were launching in and met with users. They tried to predict problems by doing “pre-mortem” assessments, she said. That is, instead of a “post-mortem” where engineers dissect what went wrong after the fact, they tried to anticipate how people might misuse a feature — for financial gain, for example

 

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech, Russia, Sheryl Sandberg, digital
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

.Facebook isn’t saying how long it has been taking this “pre-mortem” approach, though the practice isn’t unique to the company. Nonetheless, it’s a significant step given that many of Facebook’s current problems stem from its failure to foresee how bad actors might co-opt the service.

 

Facebook also hopes the feature’s slow rollout will prevent problems.

How it works

To find out if “Today In” is available in your city or town, tap the “menu” icon with the three horizontal lines. Then scroll down until you see it. If you want, you can choose to see the local updates directly in your news feed.

For now, the company is offering this only in small and mid-sized cities such as Conroe, Texas, Morgantown, West Virginia, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Large cities such as New York or Los Angeles have added challenges, such as an abundance of news and information, and may need to be broken up into smaller neighborhoods.

 

Facebook, India, Fake News, Hate Speech, Russia, digital
A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France. VOA

 

The posts in “Today In” are curated by artificial intelligence; there is no human involvement. The service aggregates posts from the Facebook pages for news organizations, government agencies and community groups like dog shelters. For this reason, a kid couldn’t declare a snow day, because “Today In” relies on the school’s official page. Discussion posts from local Facebook groups may also be included.

For now, the information is tailored only by geography, but this might change. A person with no kids, for example, might not want to see updates from schools.

Also Read: Social Media laws Should Be Tightened: Germany

Safeguards?

Facebook uses software filters to weed out objectionable content, just as it does on people’s regular news feed. But the filters are turned up for “Today In.” If a good friend posts something a bit objectionable, you are still likely to see it because Facebook takes your friendship into account. But “Today In” posts aren’t coming from your friends, so Facebook is more likely to keep it out. (VOA)