Are we at the end of the age when people are willing to share personal data and create content for social media sites that makes money?
These are great questions to be asking right now, given the shocking allegations regarding Twitter’s security practices. If it’s really true that a good portion of Twitter accounts are actually bots, and if it’s also true that security breaches have exposed our information to hackers, it might be time to re-evaluate these platforms all over again. The hard question is: When should Twitter be deleted? Perhaps Facebook.
I’ve been debating this one for myself. One, social media platforms have their value. Over the last decade, I’ve been able to post links to my articles and communicate with readers in ways that seemed impossible before that.
I’ve scoured Twitter for breaking news and written many times about how people in places like the Ukraine have been able to post about injustices. We’ve had access to politicians and celebrities like never before. On Facebook, I’ve connected with countless friends, colleagues, and family over the years.
This latest Twitter scandal might bring back memories of another. Or perhaps several. Facebook has had quite a long list, so it’s hard to keep track of them, with some experts even arguing that misinformation campaigns over the last couple of presidential elections seriously slanted the outcome.
I still remember seeing Facebook posts about Hilary Clinton’s declining health (she actually just had the flu) and hundreds of others.
And don’t get me started about all of the weird “health science” posts. You can choose to follow people on Twitter or science will save you all.
In many cases, it’s pretty easy to spot misinformation. Those who spread misinformation don’t usually include reputable links. JimBob’s blog is not reputable. He cannot spell. The way it works is somewhat lopsided, unfortunately. All you need to get information slanted in a particular way is a blog post and any link about the topic. Social media provides the ideal transport platform for these posts. It’s a wide open portal. It doesn’t matter if you are dumb.
One of the biggest problems on social media right now is that artificial intelligence can’t keep pace with this flow of misinformation, abuse, and coercion. We’re helpless. Twitter support staff and Facebook users are in a losing fight. They won the war. They lost the war.
What’s really happening here is that the precarious business model (based on the attention economy, using us as pawns for advertising) is teetering. As you look up, the tower that shows us advertisements (and does not provide any real value to the user) is visible in the sky. You want to flee the scene screaming.
The metaverse, unfortunately, is another tower in the midst of chaos.
The allegations reveal even more about the foundation of this tower, that there isn’t much to hold it all together except duct tape and bandages.
I’m not there yet, but I’ve been wondering if it might be time to consider moving over to another social media tower. I just need to find one that isn’t teetering.