Social media must become a force for good
In 2019 the world has ample problems. From impending climate doom to the rich-poor divide, over-population to war, it ain’t looking good. But don’t ask Mark Zuckerberg for help, or any other social media mastermind for that matter.
Facebook’s trust issues largely result from a profit rather than people-first attitude plucked straight from the new series of Black Mirror— a show featured in our blog on Netflix’s finest marketing moments. Meanwhile, the appalling treatment of moderators, outlined in this recent article on The Verge, reads like the stuff of nightmares.
Twitter has nothing to smile about, either. Women are particularly prone to receiving online abuse, while last year the BBC reported how MPs were being advised to leave the network due to safety threats. None of which is forgetting Instagram’s contributions to mental health problems; the constant promotion of ‘your best life’ making anxiety and depression levels go through the roof. And Snapchat is doing no better.
Of course social media has achieved plenty of positives, too, and I don’t just mean our client work. The Arab Spring benefited most of the countries it impacted, and more latterly a full scale revolution in Armenia was caused by people mobilising through this technology, bringing down a government without firing a single shot.
But the real question is, what are social media platforms doing to reverse the ugly trends they have created?
My answer would be ‘not enough’. As business finally moves away from corporate social responsibility as lip service— with green, pink and blackwashing now exposed on a daily basis— the fact our major digital comms channels continue to maintain models that foster negative behaviour is a disgrace. The problem is, change would be a lot to ask for because it would potentially reduce profits.
After all, data is priceless, and gleaned from the emotional responses of network users. We are most responsive when faced with negativity.
This leaves a gaping void in the landscape. A hole that should and— I hope— will be filled by platforms that don’t inadvertently promote hatred. What about a network that rewards supportive content, things that have positive input into the local and international community? A place where incitement of violence is considered the most pressing problem, rather than maintaining profitable engagement levels.
Put simply, social media must become a force for good sometime soon, or risk ruining its reputation for a very long time.
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