“Social media is dead. Platforms that came to define” social media,” like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, are losing shares and users to newcomers. Facebook has self-destructed as irresponsible spending caught up with it. Twitter is currently facing the threat of mass exodus afterMusk’ss takeover, but a leaked report seen by Reuters suggests that it’s already essentially a graveyard since 10 percent of users make up 90 percent of the traffic, with””heavy users” not even posting every day.”
“Facebook had a good run, but its refusal to admit mistakes and poor leadership have doomed it. Huge mistakes like this are seldom forgiven in the business world. YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and endless streaming platforms are replacing the unidirectional broadcast model, which sees”mutuals” replaced by creators and their audiences.
It’s essential to not forget that we don’t have real social networks—that is, networks centered on bonds and groups that go beyond content or consumption—allows us to lose sight of what the fight to realize them requires. You can’t simply adopt a new place to post; you’ll need to participate in them for them to be successful.
Much of this has been a long time coming: For years, our social media feeds have largely not been unadulterated streams of posts from friends and people we’ve chosen to follow. Instead, the content we are most likely to see is, famously, selected by inscrutable algorithms, which themselves can be bypassed by advertisers who pay to boost or promote their posts. The result can hardly be called anything “social”—the goal here is mind-numbingly droll absurdities calibrated to increase and sustain engagement, not the construction of communities that can collaborate or communicate in ways that aren’t mediated by a startup or a market.
A sober look at the political economy underwriting all of this reveals some grim details. Every masignificantspect of social media is privately owned and run. The data we generate, the data centers that hold it, the algorithms that process it, the servers that host it, the teams that label and sort and interact with it, the cables along which it travels—the platforms, their infrastructure, and the technical know-how are not ours. Even the data we might use to develop alternatives is hoarded by firms committed to business models that require this wholly privatized system. The computational resources we might use to experiment with that data are privately owned by the tech companies or other concentrations of capital—namely real estate investment trusts—that treat internet infrastructure as tradable financial assets rented back to major technology firms.
The other issue that has plagued Facebook is its collection and use of personal data. Facebook engineers have admitted they don’t know where the data is stored. Facebook would like us to believe that it is simply a bulletin board where people are free to post their beliefs and that this is healthy for society. The Wall Street Journal report revealed the truth. It described how these platforms direct people into extremist groups of all stripes. Surveillance marketing is little more than ten years old but has already helped drive a wedge of intolerance into democratic societies.
“It may be true that Facebook didn’t set out to” profit from hate,” but for years, Facebook has been unambiguously directing its users to hateful groups. Why? Because it is profitable. A report by Reveal and The Markup found that “ Facebook is collecting ultra-sensitive personal data about abortion seekers and enabling antiabortion organizations to use that data as a tool to target and influence people online.
Pew Research Center studied consumer beliefs about online data collection. They reported that 81 % of the public say that “ the potential risks they face because of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits. ” 79 % say they are “ concerned about how their data is being used by companies. ” 79 % of Americans say “ they are not too or not at all confident that companies will admit mistakes and take.
Advertisers still spend too much money on social media despite declining budgets. Streaming platforms, like Netflix, will soon allow advertising that’s a lot more attractive to brands.
“Dishonest of the claims is that the free internet relies on surveillance for its revenue model. This is not true. Traditional media — TV, radio, press, outdoor — did very well for decades without tracking. There is no reason online advertising can’t be viable without spying on us. Over many decades, the advertising industry has proven brilliant at finding appropriate product buyers. We have done it mostly with” light touch ” targeting that does not abuse the privacy of individuals.
Brands should still use social media to listen to what consumers say about their brands and competitors. But for advertising, here are much better options. Musk is taking Twitter down a path of destruction, and Zuck’s irresponsibility has resulted in 11,000 people losing their jobs. Traditional social media may not be dead, but it’s on life support.