Despite recent problems, social media has lots of potential. It just needs to be fixed.
2018 was not a good year for social media. But is it headed for death? As they say, once you take the genie out of bottle, it’s hard to put it back in.
Why do I say this? Because the Internet is cheap and easy to access. Even if you don’t have a home connection or a cellular data plan, you can always get free Internet access at your local library or coffee shop.
Furthermore, as humans, we always desire a connection. Even if Facebook and other social media platforms were to disappear tomorrow, we’d still find a way to get social because that’s what we humans do. We’re social animals.
Therefore, social media is here to stay. It’s not a fad. Even though it seems broken right now, it’s still got potential — and we can fix it.
The True Potential of Social
Whatever gripes we have about social media — and there are many — there’s no doubt it has its positive effects as well.
Social media has created jobs. Through social, husbands have been introduced to their eventual wives. Art has blossomed, and been shared many times over. And that’s because social media is great at what it’s designed for: connecting humanity with each other.
In an ideal world, social media should invoke the blossoming of human-to-human connectivity. It should provoke a golden age of dialogue and an exchange of ideas. If a democratic society is to function, its citizens must have a right to free expression — and, yes, that means the ability to freely express themselves on social media.
But that’s the ideal, and of this moment, we’re far away from the reality. The current reality is that there’s so much disrupting human-to-human connectivity: algorithms, trolls, botnets, and other malignant agents keeping us from each other.
Here’s How to Fix It
If we’re to fix social media, the first thing we need to fix is the Big Brother behaviour 0f the major social media platforms. That means immediately putting a stop to the mass surveillance of users.
The next thing we need to change is the monetization strategy of social media, a strategy that is served by mass surveillance. The reason users are constantly tracked is because they’re not customers — they’re the product. Social media platforms provide their services for free because they want to farm as much data from their users as possible to allow advertisers to target them.
This means building a platform that makes it impossible for companies to track you. After all, your private life is private, and it should stay private.
Let’s de-centralize social media
The current surveillance state of social media is possible because it’s built on centralization. Users submit their information to multi-billion dollar corporations, and then those corporations abuse that data.
Certainly, governments can regulate these corporations, inhibiting abuse. But then, who’s watching the watchers?
The solution then is to de-centralize social media. That means moving away from cloud-based services that own your data. And it means keeping your private information private, shared only with the people who trust and matter to you.