I'm an avid Twitter user, but I feel like my use of the platform is very different to what I see others using it for. I don't tweet often and very rarely are those tweets replies. May isn't quite over over so here are my key stats for April:
|Tweets||Tweet impressions||Profile visits||Mentions||Followers|
Nothing amazing about my experience as a casual tweeter!
Instagram is my second most-used platform and I love using it for what was originally it's intended purpose, but rarely do I comment on posts, no matter the author.
I use Facebook far less now than a year ago after taking some simple steps to demote it's presence and Linked In doesn't really work for me.
So given I appear to be more of an observer of social media than a hard-core user, what would I do to make it better for everybody?
Improving social networks in general
Political positions and commentary probably drive a lot of engagement but an opinion you come across or seek out is very different from being targeted. '''Ban adverts by political parties'''.
Advertising on social media
Ads should be vetted and cost more per engagement, pre-internet era advertising was far better and less intrusive and it's one of the few times we should look back and long for the past. I really liked Google Ads' original strategy which was to show adverts relevant to the content but having hoovered up other advertising networks, we're commodities and it's an invasion of our privacy.
Vetting ads is also a key piece of the puzzle that's missing, not only can I target by demographic but I can take it further and tailor the content to them too. It's really sad that monetizing the internet has meant that our morals have been compromised.
DISCLAIMER: I run Google Ads on 1 Thing A Week.
Authority & Responsibility
Spread the load, no one personal person should have responsibility for how billions of people are presented content. Algorithms may be driving engagement but they're also promoting a personalised ideal. I fully understand recommendations and understand why they're mutually beneficial but promoting what is thought to be more important over what is most recent is a bad idea.
Own the quality of the content
Noone should be able to leverage any platform for misinformation and this should be enforced without exception. Once again, it's politics where I see lies peddled as truth. The reach any single person has is unprecedented and needs reigning in. If the POTUS tweets a lie, it should be punished. Shrugging your shoulders isn't helping anyone.
Moderation, moderation, moderation
No platform that invites user created content should escape from the responsibility of moderating it. Twitter look to be making a decent effort at automating the moderation of content, something that has noticeably increased their ability to shut things down before they become a bigger problem, you can see more about it in the video linked to here.
There are of course downsides for those that are moderating, but perhaps a real effort to moderate and to accept responsibility would curb that content in the first place. If there's nowhere to share it, why create it?
Encourage manual curation
I've consciously curated the list of people I follow on all social networks. Even friends and family fall by the wayside if they have shell accounts or if I don't enjoy their content. My feed is for me, not for them after all. Across social media, you should be encouraged to build a closer nit community to be a part of. In fact, why not limit the number of accounts you follow? Discovery of content would certainly be harder, but the viral nature of a tweet, photo, post or video would be infinitely more organic than it currently is.
Banish dark patterns
Dark patterns are an evil part of the web, tricking the visitor of a website into performing an action they may not have wanted to. From misleading pricing to hiding content so that you're not fully informed, it's bad practice and immoral. I'm sure the Detour Act needs some work, but it's intention is clear and one I'm fully behind.
Short of deleting it, I have to agree with the idea of breaking up the monopoly that is Facebook. Instagram has evolved from an interesting social network to one that copies features from its rivals. I don't remember the last truly innovative thing they've done while Snapchat rolls out feature after feature only to watch Instagram clone it.
My eye is always drawn towards the 'like' button count, even though I search out the retweet count as a true metric of how popular something is. If the like button is going to stay, remove the count and don't use it to promote content in other people's feeds. That's what the retweet button is for.
A disagree button wouldn't go amiss and after a while, it should automatically mute accounts for you. I mean, why follow someone you disagree with anyway, but if you're not going to curate yourself, then do it for them.
My last thoughts on this topic is around acquisitions. Buying another social network is not the problem, it's buying them and then running them side by side. They should either be left to flourish on their own (without acquisition) or folded up on completion after adopting the features you want.
Instagram and WhatsApp are the two obvious ones with Facebook. Twitter shuttered Vine but didn't really adopt it's features which is a shame as it seemed to be very popular and had some very creative creators.
What would you do?
Reply and let me know what you would do to improve social media.
I often forget about Pinterest, but they've been working to quieten the voice of the anti-vaccination movement, something every player in the social media game should be on top of already.
One action I steered away from was from a quality standard that would remove those that offer a rhetoric of hate or those that preach lies as facts (Donald Trump, Nigel Farage & Boris Johnson are three that spring to mind).
Free speech is of course important, but these are largely unmoderated platforms and as part of that moderation it's probably something that does need to happen and could have a positive effect. Look at 'Tommy Robinson', who's social media accounts were suspended — an act he blames for his failure to gain enough support in the European elections last week. I find this staggering as I saw videos of his 'campaigning' more than any other candidate in the build up as he was exposed and confronted in public. I'm all about this:
Vox's Carlos Maza posted a long Twitter thread on the harasseement he encounters from other YouTubers and their followers:
It's an evolving story, and one that YouTube don't look great in. They seemed to have demonetized the offending channel rather than taking it down. Probably a sensible move, but with so many followers and a platform through which someone was able to spout so much hate so freely it feels like nothing more than a gesture.
Platforms must take responsibility for content, especially when it's reported.
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