It’s been a tough decade for social media. Twitter has struggled to find its way and serves as the primary platform for the President to address the people with the entire country waiting for his next tweet storm. Facebook and its other products, Instagram and Whatsapp have faced major scandals that have rocked the company and led to Americans questioning what these companies are really doing with all that data. On top of that, social media was credited with being a primary part of the Russian strategy to change the US election results with bots and fake accounts that platforms have had to remove.
This month, Tumblr, owned by Yahoo, annnounced that it would be removing all adult content from their site after it was found the platform was being used by sex traffickers and child paedefiles for trafficking. Apple even removed the app from its store until it complied with new Congressional legislation to stop the use of online platforms for trafficking. Platforms are now legally responsible when the activity takes place creating tremendous liability for these platforms.
10 years on, social media has gone from a teenage obsession to a major political force and has become a greater part of all our lives.
How is Social Media Treating You?
Social Media has become such a force that people are now having to detox from it. People, even celebs, will delete an account or leave a platform, rarely permantently but the pressure of social media is playing havoc on our society.
Social Media has gone from being a place to hang out with your friends and turned into a newsreel of polished photos, life events, travel, and much more. For some, it seems like everyone else is living the perfect life and they are just stuck in the muck. Young women are having work done and contouring their makeup to look better for Instagram and Snapchat.
Even the platforms are scrutinized for their looks. Earlier this year, Snapchat rolled out changes to its app. The user base rebelled and those changes were rolled back.
Social media is a force in our society that I doubt will be going away anytime soon. Even as people claimed to leave Facebook, the amount of people that left was not substantial. However, new user growth has slowed in recent months.
A different set of voices has called for the big social media companies to be broken up. It’s probably a good thing that Facebook purchased Instargram and Whatsapp when they did, its doubt such purchases would be allowed now. Facebook has come under government scrutiny for their wanton violations of civil rights by allowing those advertising housing to discriminate by race in their advertising which is a violation of Fair Housing Act.
What is most depressing is that a company as large as Facebook couldnt see any of this coming. No one considered the implications of their advertising platform and put in legal protections to stop these violations of the law. No one thought to check who was posting about national security or politics and isntead let it be entirely free flowing with easy opportunity to be co-opted. The last few years have taught us the downsides of social media.
This includes ourselves at the personal level too. We’ve had to learn to deal with perfect selfies and poiished posts. What is that doing to everyone’s mental health? Studies show, nothing good is coming from that, especially among young people. Social media took off because of the smartphone and this has delivered all sorts of content right into our pockets, we carry it around and check it causally. Whether we’re having a good day or bad we’re constantly connected and consuming all this information. Never in human history has so many people been in nearly constant contact with so many other people so consistently. Our brains simply cannot keep up with the deluge.
As a publisher, it’s hard to balance social media. On the one hand, there’s alot to not like about social media, but we also need it to grow our publication and find new readers. The vicious cycle continues, even as we try to change the conversation and provide something interesting and informative.
2018 is the year we all turned on social media. We started to question this force in our lives and our country. The question still remains, how is social media treating you?