Jim’s WebLetter for 10/21/17

Hi-ya Social Media subscribers and friends!

This week, let’s talk about changes. Changes, when made to better one’s life are good as long as there is benefit not only in the short term, but in the long term as well. For instance, you change jobs because the new position allows for advancement in a company, along with more money and benefits.

But changes made that only benefit in the short term with no long term advantage leads to problems down the road.

Case in point … the state of social media.  

A recent article in the New York Times by David Streitfeld entitled, Tech Giants, Once Seen as Saviors, Are Now Viewed as Threats (October 13, 2017) points out Facebook was beginning to enhance the online social media by “bringing freedom, enlightenment and a better future for all mankind”, according to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, in the case in reporting about the Arab Spring back in 2012.

But within 5 short years, a look at the latest social media news isn’t so flattering. As Mr. Streitfeld pointed out, “Now tech companies are under fire for creating problems instead of solving them. At the top of the list is Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. Social media might have originally promised liberation, but it proved an even more useful tool for stoking anger. The manipulation was so efficient and so lacking in transparency that the companies themselves barely noticed it was happening”.

He’s correct in saying today’s tech companies have accrued a tremendous amount of power and influence. The analogy he used was keen … Amazon determines how people shop, Google how they acquire knowledge, Facebook how they communicate. All of them are making decisions about who gets a digital megaphone and who should be unplugged from the web.

And that, my friend, is just plain scary.  

Today, smaller social media companies are either bought up by the big ones (42 of them in 2013 alone … https://www.socialfresh.com/social-media-acquisitions-2013/) or eventually go out of business.  

What was once the business model of doing good and knowing the money would follow has now reversed order to a “show me the money” attitude before all else. Facebook is a good example of growing the database and then placing the advertising. But now it seems, Facebook takes money for advertising without determining whether that advertising is reputable.

Facebook has been accused of being a harbinger of “fake news” and is making every effort to fix the problem.  

This is a good time to remind everyone that at one time, Facebook hired news writers to cover the stories until Mark Zuckerburg decided that computer algorithms could do the job, and fired all the reporters. Hackers went on the attack and managed to begin slipping fake stories past those algorithms and posted hundreds of pieces for the millions of users to read.

The result was a publicity nightmare. As a result Facebook is making a great effort to clean up its act by hiring more sets of eyes to review paid content before it’s released.

But, as the NYT story shows, “Despite the swell of criticism, the vast majority of investors, consumers and regulators seem not to have changed their behavior. Facebook has more than two billion users”.

Whether users decide to forgive and move on, or unsubscribe, the fact is this is an example of where we are with social media in 2017. The lesson learned is to be careful of what you read, post or pass on. As news people used to say, “verify your sources”.

Will things change in the future? Based on the assumption that all things change, then yes. Let’s all hope the change is for the better.

The reference for this story can be found here …

That’s it this week. Have a great weekend and may God bless you and keep you safe.

Jim’s WebLetter

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