Just 20 years ago, something like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram was a foreign idea to people. There was College Club and Friendster but many of those had trouble working most of the time. I steered clear of MySpace because my first instinct was that it was a dating website and I was in a strong relationship at the time.
Facebook was already known but not a popular or heavily used. I would get both a FB and MySpace account in 2007. But 2009, I wasn’t on MySpace anymore. There was no need. Usually with most technology, those who do it first don’t get much of the glory, which is why Netflix is stumbling right now.
On Monday. Oct. 4, Facebook, Instagram and other social media apps and websites owned by it went down for about six or seven hours. This came the day after Frances Haugen reported on 60 Minutes about all the problems at Facebook and Instagram with how they were actually encouraging the hostility with their algorithms rather than cracking down on it. Twitter officially banned Donald Trump this week after he tried to get them through the courts to re-activate his account.
Twitter has come to the party very lately, but at least it’s cleaning up its mess. For what it’s worth, it’s still taking responsibility for its mistakes even though I must admit, it shares a big piece of the shitburger to eat. I really think that if Twitter didn’t allow nudity or sexual content on its platform, a lot of people wouldn’t use it.
But this begs the question, how much longer can or will Facebook or Instagram remain popular? TikTok is all the rave with the younger people now. But I think Trump should actually thank Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg and Company for getting him elected. There was a lot of things wrong with the 2016 election, but if social media had put up bigger barriers, Hillary Clinton would’ve been the 45th Presidency no contest.
Part of the problem with social media and the internet is that a lot of people believe anything that’s reported. I must admit, I’ve been fooled and I’ve seen things later confirmed to be false. But with reports that Facebook allowed the organizations that led to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol to spread their messages is probably something they wished they put the kabosh on immediately after Biden was announced the electoral winner.
The question always remains, what did they know and when did they know it?
I worked in the media for years. I support the First Amendment. But I feel there’s a certain level of responsibility. I used to have to monitor comments on the paper’s website. Normally, I didn’t mind if people didn’t like my stories or whatever. But there was some ugly comments slandering other people or making derogatory or racist remarks that didn’t get approved.
The same wasn’t extended to our Facebook account which I didn’t like. Normally, if people couldn’t blast us on the website, they would do so on the FB page. And they had a person who was the “Internet Content Editor” who was lagging in their duties. I, for one, thought if people could present valid arguments, then so be it. The football coach, in that town, as well as county sheriff, felt they deserved praise regardless.
But going back to FB, the question remains how much longer can they play the same game the tobacco company did for years. I think it was best described in The Insider as a news reporter saying the tobacco company has pleaded ignorance by just producing a product and however the consumer uses it is up to them.
Yet just as the heads of Big Tobacco said under oath before Congress they believe that nicotine wasn’t addictive, Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, formerly with Brown and Williamson, which makes Kools and others, said they actually were making cigarettes more addictive at least at his company.
Now, does Zuckerberg and company have the same famous last words?
Social media is dangerous despite many of these tech companies spending millions on lobbying to remain “just tech companies.” But yet if they go after video game makers for content in their games, why are the social media companies immune? With it being 2021, more Xers and Millennials should be in Congress but yet, we still have older people making laws.
A day will come, hopefully sooner rather than later, that lawmakers raised in the last 30-40 years will be a majority. Things change over time. Priority changes. We can’t have the same silver fox Congress members still acting like the Cold War and the Soviet Union which ended 30 years ago is a big threat. Cyber threats are far more dangerous and cyber bulling is far more dangerous. Misinformation spread over the Internet is very dangerous. Yet, little is being done about it.
But it’s still illegal to scream “Fire!” in a crowded area. Imagine screaming “Fire!” in a crowded Internet forum.
Some will say this is “Killing the messenger.” But an analogy I heard is it’s like removing a loud and violent drunk from a bar.
I’m not surprised the snafu happened on Monday. I’m sure they had to shut it down temporarily to do some damage control.
More and more people are turning away from FB that Zers are barely on it. Millennials have either deleted their accounts or limited their use. It seems only Xers and Boomers, the older people, have taken it over. And like everything that us older people do, it become less popular to the younger people.
Zuckerberg is three years away from turning 40. I’m just wondering if FB will still be as popular on his 40th birthday or will it go to the forgotten realm of MySpace or Friendster. Nothing last forever and I think the recent elections along with the Covid-19 pandemic have done more damage.
And with reports that Instagram has led to higher cyberbulling with young women contemplating suicide, attempting it and sadly doing it, could a social media be held accountable?
There’s a fine line, I’m sure, but stalking and bullying can be dangerous and if someone knows it’s happening and doesn’t intervene but encourage it in one form, they can be considered responsible. While I’m sure, it might be harder to prove criminally, but in civil court, there could be some headway.
I’m sure this isn’t a good week for Zuckerberg and he is probably sweating a lot.