In the early days of social media, one of the promises was the democratization of the media. The problem is, the democratization of the media assumes everyone is acting in good faith and doing the work of vetting sources.
What we got was the democratization of the media, yes. But we also got trolls and bad actors propagating lies and misinformation, both intentionally and from being duped by people they trust. Lies mixed with truth in your news feed result in nothing being reliable, so people trust their instincts.
Confirmation bias and the Dunning-Kruger effect kick in. So what we have now is low-information hot takes, not thoughtful discourse. But it is thoroughly democratized. Everyone’s hot take is equal to everyone else’s hot take. Facts have become irrelevant and everyone is experiencing information overload.
Yesterday, Musk re-tweeted a conspiracy theory post about Pelosi’s husband hiring a male prostitute.
So much for Musk’s purchase of Twitter raising the level of discourse in social media. (I know that isn’t something he promised.)
Musk is the perfect example of the problem. And now he’s running Twitter.
As a social media manager, I wish the tools like HootSuite and Sendible supported more social media platforms. Vero and Mastodon come to mind, but there are several others I might like to leverage for myself and my clients.
Facebook needs to be broken up. There is no reason one company should be able to control Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. (Don’t get me started on their “metaverse”…)
The only social media platform I’ve seen that has any kind of reasonable level of discourse is Reddit. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Parler, and so many others are just dumpster fires.
Until we can put more limits on our First Amendment right to free speech and enforce penalties for spreading lies and misinformation, things are only going to get worse.
I know, I know. Social media isn’t destroying our liberal democracy. The problem is the people, not the platforms. Disinformation and propaganda have always been with us. Social media platforms are just facilitating it faster than ever before.
Brave politicians must take a stand, work across the aisle, and get this dumpster fire of a situation under control. And citizens need to learn a little bit of discipline. And schools must teach critical thinking skills and problem-solving instead of teaching to the test.