What ails society in the 21st century? Blame it all on Facebook and Twitter as social media has become a toxic hell stew for everything wrong with humanity. Jon Evans and Jonny Evans wrote separate missives on both the problem and a potential solution.
Facebook is a breeding ground for fake news and polarized outrage, accused of corrupting democracy and spurring genocide. Twitter knows it has become a seething battleground of widespread, targeted abuse — but has no solution. YouTube videos are messing with the minds of children and adults alike
What’s going on? Ev Williams:
We laid down fundamental architectures that had assumptions that didn’t account for bad behavior.
What people did not anticipate– or, if they did, didn’t raise a voice loud enough for everyone to hear– is social media is poison.
Because this technology meant to provoke human connection actually dehumanizes. Not always, of course; not consistently. It remains a wonderful way to keep in contact with distant friends, and to enhance your relationship and understanding of those you regularly see in the flesh.
Internet has always had a negative populace. What’s different?
But it’s different now; the assholes are more organized, their victims are often knowingly and strategically targeted, and many seem to have calcified from assholedom into actual evil.
Now the problem of how a portion of humanity acts with the rest of humanity clearly is visible in the dominant social platforms that hold so much of human interaction.
This is implicit for the platforms themselves, for Facebook and Twitter and YouTube, all of whom rake in huge amounts of money. Their income and profits are, of course, inextricably connected to the “engagement” of their users. And if there are social costs — and it’s become clear that the social costs are immense — then they have to be externalized.
The other Evans, Jonny, has a solution and it involves Apple and principled privacy.
Apple’s devices already possess more power than most. The company just needs to tie them all together. Imagine a space in which non-fake, curated Apple News links could be shared and commented on by iCloud users through their verified accounts. Apple has previously said there is a “responsibility” for big firms to take responsibility for fake news.
You don’t see much of that taking place on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube et all, but as the problems become more pronounced and more public, government intervention is a certainty.
Apple’s entire ecosystem is Disneyland-like, so why not a curated social network for Apple ID owners, Apple hardware owners, Apple customers?
Not only would the fact that identities needed to be verified by iCloud users help cut out some of the abusive trolls who make other social networks so uncomfortable, but Apple’s decisions around privacy protection and keeping ad networks out of the picture should empower users to truly communicate in an atmosphere of relative security and trust.
An Apple social network for Apple customers and users. This is an idea whose time may be coming.