Jeanette Elam of West Ashley didn’t join Facebook until February because she didn’t want any part of the negativity that she had heard was on the social networking website.
The 47-year-old massage therapist realized that she could avoid that through privacy settings, and she now visits Facebook daily to post positive messages.
She preaches the word of God to her friends and family by putting Bible passages and religious notes on her wall.
“It’s a vehicle for me to reach people,” she said. “It’s very, very valuable.”
There’s no questioning the popularity of Facebook, which boasts 901 million monthly active users. But its value is being questioned this week as the company prepares to offer its first sale of public stock on Friday.
The biggest hit likely has come from General Motors, the country’s third-largest advertiser, when it announced this week that it planned to pull its $10 million in advertising on Facebook because the ads weren’t working.
And a survey released Tuesday by The Associated Press and CNBC underscored that issue.
Only 13 percent of Facebook users said they “completely trust” the site to protect their personal information, and 57 percent said they never click on ads or sponsored content.
Those findings could be problematic for the company in the long-term, but many Lowcountry residents said Tuesday that the site has become engrained in their everyday lives.
“It’s impossible to escape,” said Stanley Provost, 19, of West Ashley. “You can’t get away from it, even if you try.”
The College of Charleston student can rattle off a number of other social networking sites, but he said Facebook seems to be everyone’s go-to.
When his friends have lost their cellphones, they’ve told him, “If you need me, Facebook message me.”
He doesn’t think it’s going to disappear any time soon. “It’s always there,” he said. “It’s the powerhouse.”
Samantha Gadsden, 31, of North Charleston, said she checks her Facebook account about twice a week. The stay-at-home mom uses the site to keep up with out-of-town friends and relatives and to post inspirational messages.
She likes Facebook because it makes it easier to stay in touch, but she worries about children who have created profiles.
Some of her friends’ young children post regularly, and she fears Internet predators who could track them down, she said.
Her son is 11, and she won’t let him have an account. “He’s too young for it,” she said.
She expects Facebook to continue growing in popularity in part because the younger generation already is hooked, she said.
She won’t be surprised to see more competitors too.
“They’re always coming up with something new,” she said.
Brooks DuBose, 36, of West Ashley, works for a software company that developed a product that is like a Facebook for businesses.
“It’s gotten to be a standard way of communicating, and they’re applying that to the business environment,” he said. “I think it’s going to remain the standard for a while.”
In his personal life, he uses it to keep up with his friends and promote his band, Disco Demolition Knights. Professionally, he uses it to stay informed about current and prospective clients.
“It’s really the modern-day way to ... communicate and get information,” he said.
Elam agreed. She still preaches on the streets and hands out fliers with gospel messages, but she relies on Facebook to reach a virtual audience. She knows she could use it to promote her massage business, and she might do that one day.
But her main objective now is to spread the word of God, and she considers time spent doing so sacred, she said.
“It’s my fellowship with the Lord,” she said.
Reach Diette Courrégé at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.