Take note when social media platforms decide how agendas should take shape
And therein lies the problem.
Behind the facade of connectivity and innovation lies a corrupt system of data breaches, content filtering for commercial and/or political gain, and ruthlessly refined user experiences designed to maximize your attention without sharing for profit . As the famous Netflix documentary says, “If you’re not paying for the product, then you’re the product.”
Infringements and Data Mining
In what many feel is a closed loop, the coalescence of supposedly democratic governments, their corporate sponsors, Big Tech, and the liberal media have attempted to forge a self-perpetuating system of power that promotes a kinetic transfer of wealth in its ranks in the pockets of everyday consumers. As part of this machine, the social/digital media companies of Meta, Alphabet, LinkedIn and Twitter (before Musk) have proven to be arbiters of censorship, but even worse, drivers of division through identity politics, nullify culture and data theft.
Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal was arguably the first publicly acknowledged breach where it became clear that no one had hacked the social media giant, but was complicit in providing data for political purposes. As Julie Carrie Wong summarizes, “Almost every company has suffered a big data breach at this point; only Facebook has endured such existential judgment. It’s because what happened with Cambridge Analytica was not a matter of infiltrating Facebook’s systems, but Facebook’s systems are working as intended: data has been amassed, data has been extracted, and data has been mined.”
Today, under the Meta brand, Facebook and Instagram are not only aware of their unethical behavior in data sharing, but also that their platforms have been designed in a way that knowingly harms consumers, in particular to teenage girls. After sitting on the research for two years, a leak seen by the Wall Street Journal from an internal presentation said, “We’re making body image issues worse for one in three teenage girls.”
Nothing but an addiction
A subsequent report in March 2020 said, “Thirty-two percent of teenage girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.”
Besides exacerbating mental health issues, the platforms were also designed to be as addictive as possible. Using a “three-pronged approach”, it is now considered standard for developers to adhere to the usual criteria of sufficient motivation, action, and trigger.
According to app developer Peter Mezyk, “If we open an app every day, developers are happy. On social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram, the more time we spend on the platform, the more advertising revenue flows into the pockets of tech companies – attention is commonplace.”
As a result, many users are negatively affected by fear of missing out (FOMO), lack of focus, procrastination, and a wandering brain.
“They continue to put growth and profit above designing a platform based on the needs of its users,” said Lindsey Barrett, an attorney at the Georgetown Communications and Technology Clinic. As a particularly glaring example of this mindset, Barrett cited Facebook’s insistence on using phone numbers that users provided for security reasons for non-security purposes.
A more widespread and probably more threatening problem is influence over the democratic process. For example, the widespread use of #StopTheSteal across all social media platforms, in coordination with a concerted far-right disinformation effort, has cast doubt on the legitimacy of the 2020 US presidential election results and contributed to the violent January 6 assault on the United States. Capital city.
More recently, Mark Zuckerberg admitted that Facebook intentionally and algorithmically censored Hunter Biden’s laptop story for a week in support of the incumbent administration. As an undemocratically elected body, social media companies possess an armed political propaganda tool. Whoever controls and wields his sword has the ability to strongly influence elections and undermine the democratic process.
Even non-pejorative braking
Meta is not alone – less controversial but widely used platforms such as LinkedIn, especially since their acquisition by Microsoft in 2016, have not only put more emphasis on censoring or banning ideas that go to against the narrative (especially regarding the pandemic), but also showed evidence of racial profiling, security breaches, and ongoing fraud cases.
In December last year, the business-focused platform censured and suspended three prominent Scottish hospitality executives following viral posts that called out the Scottish Government’s COVID-19 policies.
Commenting on the suspensions, Stephen Montgomery, head of Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG), said: “When you have three big voices in hospitality saying exactly the same thing, it begs the question of why some social media platforms are removing our messages and lock our accounts. Nothing I have posted is derogatory or defamatory, these are all pandemic related issues to give people information.