Social media will not change itself till customers cease logging in — Quartz
Despite its warts, social media has become a part of everyday life for billions of people around the world.
In the US, citizens of all kinds agree that platforms designed to bring us together are actually tearing us apart. According to a recent NBC poll, 66% of Americans use social media once a day, and every demographic except black users agrees that social media is more divisive than uniform.
Social media companies have been slow to address the most pressing concerns of their daily active users: misinformation, targeted harassment, and the unique dangers social media poses to children. Unfortunately for users, especially women of color and members of the LGBTQ community, the world’s largest platforms seem unwilling to make significant changes to the way they monitor their respective online communities.
While the majority of Americans have serious problems with social media, they don’t seem willing to do much about it. According to a survey by Reboot Online, a digital marketing research company, only a tiny fraction are willing to quit, and internet users in other countries are even less willing to give up social media.
Not only are most Americans unwilling to leave social media. Platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, and Rumble – a nascent video sharing platform that some believe will deter their users from the truth – have reported user growth over the past year, and most of them have reason to the assumption that growth will continue.
As long as users keep coming and Washington’s responses continue to fade, social media has no reason to change the experience for the most vulnerable users.
Capitol Hill misses the point
Washington, for its part, appears to be reaching agreement in response to Section 230 of the Federal Communications Act, which guarantees that websites cannot be sued in American courts for false, dirty, or downright illegal things that their users post about the evils of the Internet. US President Joe Biden, whose administration had promised to review the law, called for its repeal as a candidate last year, and Democrats and Republicans have tabled duel laws to reform it. Weeks before the end of his term in office, former President Donald Trump held up a bill on defense spending, which allowed Twitter to put warnings on his tweets.
However, for all its importance, Section 230 requires a bipartisan act of Congress to change, and the most successful efforts to date have centered on sex crimes. The biggest blow to the law was the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) of 2018, which made companies responsible for hosting content related to sex trafficking.
While Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, stepped in step with Biden and Trump in his desire for a change in the law, he found little support among other social media minds, and the moderate reforms he is pushing forward to keep lawmakers from doing so. scrapping it altogether also failed to satisfy the side of the debate on Capitol Hill.
“Platforms should not be held liable if certain content eludes its detection – that would be impractical for platforms with billions of posts per day,” Zuckerberg told Congress in March addressing illegal content. “
It’s worth asking how adequacy would be on each platform if Facebook set the standard. Facebook’s ban on Donald Trump – and the subsequent mutiny by the Review Board that gathered to evade Zuckerberg’s Trump issue – and his role as a broker of false information during a pandemic show a system with less than adequate security in place.
Even modest attempts at moderation have brought criticism and attempts to regulate the process, including a Michigan bill requiring internet fact-checkers to register with the state and fined $ 1,000 per day for violating registration requirements.
A present danger
Instagram, owned by Facebook, has more than 500 million users on its platform who view Instagram Stories every day. The app was widely criticized for the plan to introduce a separate user platform exclusively for children. While experts have rightly pointed out that Instagram may not be the best platform for the developing psyche, research shows that 40% of kids under the age of 13 are already using it anyway.
While Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel managed to remain largely silent on moderation issues, Snap just announced that it would end the integration of the chat services LMK and Yolo due to cyberbullying concerns. The ruling follows a lawsuit filed this week by Kristin Bride, the mother of a teenager who died of suicide in June after being bullied on the two apps.
According to a study by Thorn, a nonprofit that develops technology to protect children from sexual abuse, Snapchat is the platform where most minors (26% and 15%) have reported potential harm and stated that they have an explicit had sexual interaction with another user. While Twitter’s army of pro-Chinese accounts is signaling signal-boost messages from Beijing with enthusiastic approval and policymakers refusing to address platform-wide harassment of black women through troll accounts, it recently announced a new feature prompting users to reconsider after drafting particularly obnoxious tweets.
While social media companies will continue to say some of the right things when faced with these topics through a new cycle of news (everyone responded to Thorn’s research with resolute, if hollow, statements), problems are likely to remain because their focus is elsewhere for example on e-commerce projects in order to benefit from user spending.
International efforts to curb the negative effects of the ubiquity of social media have gained momentum and prompted companies to take steps to maintain the status quo. While companies tend to spend and litigate most of the more serious threats on their bottom line, a few key victories elsewhere have resulted in significant changes in the US. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union forced Facebook to offer European-style protection worldwide, albeit on a smaller scale. With social security continuing to battle the billions in revenue generated by social media companies, even international lawmakers can’t offer much help to users in the US.