What’s happened to social media?
You may, or may not, have heard of the news that 50 million Facebook accounts were breached a few days ago. But, Facebook was caught posts linking to a legitimate Guardian article about the breach as “spam”. (If you click on the “i” on the bottom right of the article link, a pop-up will explain that The Guardian is a legitimate publisher.) So Facebook was, essentially, censoring posts about the breach.
Also, Facebook doesn’t allow WordPress (the CMS I use for this blog) to automatically publish a link to my latest blog post onto my Profile. (They’ve stopped this for everyone, not just me.) Many people (mainly those who have conservative views) have been censored by Facebook and Twitter.
Instagram, a social media network allowing users to share photos of what they’ve been up to, has been causing negative effects for it’s users. YouTube isn’t as bad, but it’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki has been accused of demonetizing (not allowing creators to make money out of) videos that deal with “controversial” subjects (tragedies, conspiracy theories, politics etc.) Even a YouTube channel about people who used to self-harm but don’t do so any more was demonetized, even though it wasn’t against any of YouTube’s policies.
Now, we’re going to go through the (major) issues of major social media companies, one by one, in detail. Are you ready? Let’s go!
Fake news has been thrown around a little bit over the past two years. At first, it was used to describe news that was spread by Russian accounts promoting Donald Trump. But it’s now used much more widely.
Even when writing to my local MP about animal welfare, they used the term fake news to describe the stories circulating about Conservatives voting against stronger animal welfare laws.
There is just one problem with that. It is clearly what is now known as fake news. […] And these viral articles are fake news.
The point I’m trying to make is politicians and other highly-known public figures use “fake news” to describe things they don’t like or don’t want to hear.
Political advertisements and gains
Facebook was meant to connect the world, not a board for political advertisements. But, in recent years, particularly during 2016, Facebook was used to influence hearts and minds in the 2016 presidental election and the EU referendum. And some people claim that, along with the legitimate campaigns advertising on there, there were also adverts apparently created by Russian accounts, promoting Brexit and Trump.
Firstly, Trump is a bit of a kid when it comes to what he says on Twitter. He basically uses it to rant his thoughts. But whatever you think of his political views, at least he gets things done. For example, he met up with the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un. He was the first president to meet a North Korean leader. The meeting went very well, and now (very, very, very slowly) North Korea is beginning to get rid of all of it’s missile-testing stations. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un now regularly keep in-touch through letters.
(Although he did start increasing the tensions between the two countries in the first place on Twitter by saying that his nuclear button. The full tweet is below:)
Ah yes, the good old issue of privacy. Facebook was recently hacked, and over 50 million people, including Mark Zuckerberg himself (which I actually find quite funny), had their personal details stolen. Unless you had to log back in again when you’re usually signed in (I use a private version of Firefox, so I don’t know whether this is the case for me) then you weren’t hacked. (There’s no other way of finding out at the moment!)
But this isn’t just about hacking. It’s about how not just Facebook and Twitter, but Google, track you across the internet, vacuuming up all your personal information as you surf the web and then sell it to advertisers so they can give you ads. There is, however, one very simple solution to this: install the DuckDuckGo plugin on your browser. It stops tracker networks from tracking you – and, after you’ve used it for a while, shows the top tracker network offenders. (Note: It doesn’t block YouTube trackers if you’re on YouTube, for example, as the site would break if this happened.)
It also has a private search engine, which doesn’t associate your searches with a particular time or a location or with you at all. You can find out more about that here.
Facebook wanted to focus on it’s roots of connecting people, so it changed the algorithm it uses to decide what appears on your timeline/news feed so you have more posts from friends and groups rather than pages. However, many right-wing groups and people with right-wing views have been complaining that their views, likes, comments etc on their posts have been going down. No left-wing or liberal groups have reported the same problems.
California, where most of the big tech giants are based, is a left-wing state. Most of the companies that are there have left-wing views, so it could be true that they may be censoring those with right-wing views.
This one is YouTube-specific. Many videos have been demonetized (not allowed to make money from ads that run before or during the video) because they include “controversial” subjects. These list of subjects include videos that contain:
- natural disasters
- conspiracy theories
Also, YouTube changed their algorithm, which resulted in many big and small YouTube channels experiencing a plummet in views. One of my favourite YouTube channels, Glove and Boots, was affected by this so much that they had to take a break from making videos.
(Hope you can come back soon, Glove and Boots!)
Also, they changed the amount of subscribers and views required in order to make money from ads. I reached the 10,000 total views required to be considered for review. When I was half-way through that review process, they changed it so you have to have 1,000 subscribers AND 4,000 watch hours in the past year in order to make money from your videos.
Sadly, I haven’t achieved those goals yet. But, whilst YouTube isn’t what keeps the roof over my head, for some people, it is their primary source of income. So Susan Wojcicki needs to take action – as there are many people who want her fired.
(But this deserves a blog post of it’s own.)
A recent survey showed YouTube has the most positive impact out of all the social networks (Facebook, Instagram etc) in every category except from sleep. So they should take advantage of this and get their act together.
Social media can be great for learning something new, staying in touch with friends and meeting new people. But it also has it’s problems. Some have been covered in the news more than others.
This blog post only scratched the surface of the problems that some platforms are having online and offline. There may be even more impacts that social media is having.
If you have experienced any of these problems, please share your experience(s) in the comments below. You don’t have to put your name – you can simply put “Anonymous” as your name if you want to, as for all blog posts.
Also, please share this blog post using the Share buttons below – it really helps! The future of social media may just depend on it…