Why Most Social Media Websites Fail

Most social media websites fail because they do not recognize the importance of individual persons. This goes beyond the way people are simply turned into numbers (likes, comments, etc.). Many also take away each person’s individual voice.

One thing that made tumblr.com successful is that they instead seemed to celebrate each person’s individuality – but if you looked closely, then there were also many types of content which were prohibited (most crucially, anything that might resemble advertising, making money, or deriving almost any kind of profit from content).

Facebook.com has been a heavily censored website for a long time – perhaps even since the beginning. But about a year ago, they also took further steps to silence their users when the management decided (as many other social media websites have done and continue to do) to disable RSS feeds.

One of the things that makes the Internet such a powerful tool is the technologies that have been created to make it easy for people express and share their opinions. Turning off RSS – perhaps the most quintessential sharing technology – is nothing less than a slap in the face of individuals and also in blatant disrespect of the freedom of expression.

No individual owns anything on any so-called „social media“ website. These websites could be called very large scale corporate blogs, but they by no means represent any individual’s ideas. This is so because the corporations responsible for maintaining these websites censor the content. Just to make this point perfectly clear, let me give you a hypothetical example. Since I want this example to quite obviously make my point very clear, I will make it rather extreme. Suppose, then, for example, that someone were to want to create a page on facebook.com titled „I love Adolph Hitler“. If this page were not immediately deleted, then perhaps the person who created the page might try to get people to „like“ the page. Some people would certainly get upset and report the page. I doubt such pages can exist (if at all) much longer than just a couple minutes. This may be a good thing from the perspective of banning so-called „hate speech“, but at the same time such censorship also leads to a quite slippery slope towards also banning free speech in general. Consider a less extreme example: Nudity. There are many artists who portray nudity in their artwork. Indeed, there is even a genre of art called „nude“. Any censored website will not permit the site’s users to express their affinity for a multitude of topics – at the very least, those topics which are expressly prohibited.

Prohibitions are rarely very clear-cut – they leave quite a lot of room for a censor to remove content they do not like. Therefore, it is actually impossible for anyone to know whether someone actually likes something by paying attention to a censored website like facebook. The main thing you will be able to figure out (if you are able to figure out anything at all) is whether the Facebook Corporation likes something (or not).

The question of exactly when a certain so-called „social media“ website fails essentially boils down to finding the answer to the question: „how much censorship will the users tolerate?“ Personally, I find it disgusting, vile and pernicious, obsessed and deranged to block RSS feeds… and I refuse to tolerate that. Others may refuse to tolerate other aspects – such as putting limitations on so-called „friendships“.

One rather odd thing many people seem unwilling to tolerate is requiring them to use a web browser. I find this odd because I see a web browsers as very advanced technologies (well, of course this depends on which web browser the user chooses to use), which empower users greatly. I have a hunch that one of the primary reasons many people seem reluctant to accept web browsers has to do with a lack of literacy skills – but I think this is a topic for another (separate) blog post.

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1 Response to Why Most Social Media Websites Fail

  1. Pingback: Hate Speech Now Prohibited on Facebook, Google, Twitter – information + technology

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