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Social media doesn’t change until users stop logging in – Quartz


Despite its warts, social media has become a part of everyday life for billions of people worldwide.

In the US, citizens of all stripes agree that platforms designed to bring us together are actually tearing us apart. According to a recent NBC poll, 66% of Americans use social media once a day, and all demographics except black users agree that social media is more divisive than unifying.

Social media companies have been slow to address the most pressing concerns of their daily active users: misinformation, targeted harassment, and the unique dangers social media poses to children. Unfortunately for users, especially women of color and members of the LGBTQ community, the world’s largest platforms seem unwilling to make significant changes to the way their respective online communities are monitored.

But while the majority of Americans seem to have serious problems with social media, they don’t seem willing to do much about it. According to a survey by Reboot Online, a digital marketing research firm, only a tiny fraction are willing to quit, and internet users in other countries are even less willing to give up social media.

Not only are most Americans unwilling to abandon social media, they also have platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, and Rumble – an emerging video-sharing platform that some believe is keeping its users away from the truth reported user growth over the past year, and most have reason to believe that growth will continue.

As long as users keep coming and Washington’s responses continue to fade, social media will have no reason to change the experience for its most vulnerable users.

Capitol Hill misses the point

Washington, for its part, appears to be in agreement with Section 230 of the Federal Communications Act – which guarantees that websites cannot be sued in American courts for false, dirty, or downright illegal contributions by their users – in response to the evils of the Internet. US President Joe Biden, whose administration had promised to review the law, called for its repeal last year, and Democrats and Republicans have tabled duel laws to reform it. Weeks before the end of his term in office, former President Donald Trump held up a bill for defense spending in anger over the law that allowed Twitter to post warnings on his tweets.

For all its importance, however, section 230 requires a bipartisan act of Congress to change, and the most successful efforts to date have centered on sex crimes. The biggest blow to the law came with the 2018 Fostering Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which blamed companies for hosting content related to sex trafficking.

While Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg appeared in lockstep with Biden and Trump about his desire to amend the law, he found little support among other social media bosses, and the moderate reforms he is pushing to keep lawmakers from doing To discard it altogether, both sides of the Capitol Hill debate did not like it.

“Platforms should not be held liable if certain content eludes detection – that would be impractical for platforms with billions of posts per day,” Zuckerberg told Congress in March, “but they should have adequate systems in place to address illegal content . “

It’s worth asking how adequacy would be on each platform if Facebook set the standard. Facebook’s ban on Donald Trump – and the subsequent mutiny by its review panel, put together to take the Trump issue out of Zuckerberg’s hands – and its role as a facilitator of false information during a pandemic show a system with less than adequate security in place .

Even modest attempts at moderation have brought criticism and attempts to regulate the process, including a Michigan bill requiring internet fact-checkers to register with the state and fined $ 1,000 a day for violating registration requirements will.

A present danger

Instagram, which is part of Facebook, has more than 500 million users on its platform every day who view Instagram Stories. The app was widely criticized because of the plan to introduce its own user platform exclusively for children. While experts have rightly pointed out that Instagram may not be the best platform for the developing psyche, research shows that 40% of kids under the age of 13 are already using it anyway.

While Snapchat founder and CEO Evan Spiegel has managed to remain largely silent on moderation issues, Snap has just announced that it will end the integration of the chat services LMK and Yolo due to cyberbullying concerns. The ruling follows a lawsuit filed this week by Kristin Bride, the mother of a teenager who died of suicide in June after being bullied on the two apps.

According to a study by Thorn, a nonprofit that develops technology to protect children from sexual abuse, Snapchat is the platform where most minors (26% and 15%) report potential harm and have explicit sexual interaction with another user had. While Twitter’s army of pro-Chinese accounts is signaling news from Beijing with enthusiastic approval, and its decision-makers refusing to address platform-wide harassment of black women through troll accounts, it recently announced a new feature that prompts users to reconsider after drafting the particularly hideous Tweets.

While social media companies will continue to say some of the right things when faced with these topics through a new cycle of news (everyone responded to Thorn’s research with resolute, if hollow, statements), given their focus elsewhere, the problems are likely to persist is, for example, on the e-commerce projects to collect the expenses of the users.

International efforts to contain the negative effects of the ubiquity of social media have gained momentum and encouraged companies to maintain the status quo. While companies tend to outbid and litigate most of the more serious threats to their profits, a few significant victories elsewhere have resulted in significant changes in the states. For example, the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union forced Facebook to offer European-style protective measures worldwide, albeit to a lesser extent. With social security continuing to hit the billions in revenue of social media companies, even international lawmakers won’t be able to offer much help to US users.


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