Our world is changing. I've conducted a bit of research across many major social media sites since their inception (trying to not create a name and shame situation of course), and I've disturbingly found that after they reach a certain point of success, social media sites trend towards very strict ideals in many ways in regards to how they govern users and control their perceptions to the public. I decided to compare my observations about many of these sites against key aspects of social and economic principles within a "boiler-plate" ideology for community governance of course... SOURCE USED FOR COMPARISON: https://simplicable.com/new/communism
1. The majority of people posting do it ritually for free, and are increasingly encouraged to be engaged in generating content for imaginary currency called "likes". Companies work to promote the ideal that posting (work) is a requirement to be a "citizen of value".
2. Technically you "own" your personal account; provided you follow rules & never disparage nor complain about the "government" (management).
3. There is a usually a perception of equality, now more often than not the model is corrupted by "payola" (the act of paying to be viewed), where you must pay to skip to the front of lines. This move is great for company profit, but often creates a race that ultimately only wealthy and popular posters succeed in, while those who do not fit into that category invest vast amounts of futile effort in hopes of getting noticed to no positive gain.
4. Companies providing services frequently work to increase revenue, especially once they have an IPO, and their actions almost always trend towards global domination, and acquisition of other entities or "governments" (FB and IG for example) until they don't have any other competition...
5. Platforms regularly promote how they help their communities, and work to suppress individuals from building (new) independent platforms, but usually profit far beyond what they reinvest in citizens (service users). And platforms often "compete" against each other (also against individualism) and work to establish and increase overall dominance through many covert means. (Net Neutrality Lobbying, Acquisitions and Mergers, Disinformation, Financial Market Manipulation, etc)
6. Platforms regularly provide "competitive" information and mis-leading tutorials on how to achieve success within their ecosystem to drive individuals to work harder to achieve an increasingly elusive "Bureaucratic Elite" status, which is primarily driven by how much money and/or influence you had at the beginning. This encourages a futile effort to invest in gains that are impossible to achieve, and eventually users settle into failure or "poverty" of not being seen or heard, while information on them is still collected for later use (usually negative means) if they indeed to become a user of interest. When Facebook demanded that users use their real government names, and when many other sites created "Verified" accounts, identity became inextricably linked to online personalities. This act can also serve to "weaponize" information gathered by these platforms if it is compromised, or if the company decides to abuse or distribute that information to any other entity.
7. Rules of conduct within social media communities also become increasingly complex over time. They often become equivalent to laws that contradict normal government law and they span across the globe as single points of authority and responsibility, and these rules are beginning to be enforced with increasingly harsh punitive results over time related to each social media community (lifetime bans and exclusion from participation for common mistakes for example). Many social media community laws are quite strict restrictions on content categories and topics, tenure or merit-based inclusion (Yet these types of rules often get bypassed by wealthy and influential participants outside of public view). These rules also skirt equal rights measures of more local countries and communities that serve to uphold peace and protections for citizens, and to prevent things like bullying and extortion. Many aspects of this kind of negative communication and action occur without anyone knowing because most social media communities are conducted behind paywalls and passwords. (Austerity reference)
8. People are increasingly (and harmfully) driven towards extremist, violent, and sensational "protests" in order to overcome suppression of their "voices" online, and in order to generate group identity in order to create their own platforms within these communities (although, of course, that's always the wrong solution. (e.g. licking ice cream in the supermarket and putting it back on the shelf on video).
9. Social media community leaders (CEOs and execs) have perpetual access to deep information on absolutely every citizen within their community, and can promote, demote, and silence users (citizens) without accountability nor transparency related to their actions. These company officials are usually also not elected by community members, they usually serve quite long terms as governors and tasked with building company revenue. Increasingly on platforms every day, there are few to no useful forums nor opportunities offered to community citizens for public complaint, technical support, or feedback (unless of course you are among the wealthy or influential populations).
The above issues are not meant to discourage the use and/or existence of social media sites, it is meant as an opportunity for company leaders and managers to begin to think and innovate more ethically (in a future-minded perspective) about curbing corruption within certain aspects of how they conduct their business to encourage better communities while they can still generate profit and encourage more equal, fair, and transparent engagement and reasonable policy in more communal ways.
NOTE: This post was not initially intended to coincide with our current social/public/political crises, yet many of those events are a frequently a reflection of the overarching issues that drive incidents like it, and does not intend to make a political value statement on any ideology. Comparison to Communism as a parallel is solely used in contrast to management of social media technology, and not as a statement to endorse nor condemn any form of "political" government.
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