I've been collecting articles about social media and the American political scene. It's a subject that requires our urgent attention--particularly since the current administration appears to be deliberately ignoring the situation. (I suspect the reason why is that they feel that the thumb on the scale is being pressed in their favor. Why do anything if it's working to your benefit?) Sure. The problem exists. But the Republicans think they need every advantage they can lie, cheat, buy, and/or steal to maintain power. The sad part is that it's true. The GOP do need to cheat to stay in power. At a certain point, the popular vote will overwhelm the Electoral College's hold. It's going to happen. The average American is not as extreme or conservative as the Republicans want or need. They've gone farther to the Right than average Americans are comfortable with. (It's about time white America woke up and listened to POC.) And now Americans are getting pissed off. Finally. Unfortunately, there are bad-actors out there, and we've no protections in place. This makes me very concerned for the 2018 elections. If we don't start dramatically turning this mess around--if we don't wrench power from those who are merrily turning our democracy into a dictatorship, there'll be no turning back.
It's what Russia wants. Fortunately, people are paying attention. They just need to be listened to.
Anyway, there's no doubt that social media has been a huge factor. Clickbait headlines are what 'sells' in social media circles. What's more clickbait-y than a conspiracy theory? Such tactics were used during the 2016 election to engage the latent misogyny within Bernie supporters (and Bernie's self interest) to split the Democratic party and manipulate the Electoral College. They were manipulated. (Of course, they don't want to admit that. That urge to watch a train wreck that I kept hearing from various quarters was a big part of it too.) Anyway, I'll let this article tell the rest: How to Fix Facebook—Before It Fixes Us. See also: FACEBOOK IS LOSING THE WAR ON HATE SPEECH.
In short, unfettered Capitalism is a problem. It's always been a problem. When you create a tool for communication there is always a chance that someone will use that tool for harmful purposes. When you're the only one who can immediately and directly curb the harm done by third parties using your creation then it is, in fact, your responsibility to do something about it. It's time for Silicone Valley to grow up. It's time for tech companies to acknowledge that they are pissing in the swimming pool. It's time to stop disrupting everything and everyone. That shit is only an advantage for those who are first to do it, and it is only a short term gain. After that, all that remains is smoking rubble unless you create a monopoly. And monopolies are, in fact, abusive and evil unless heavily regulated. Enlightened self-interest is the best policy.
User privacy (in spite of the blasé attitude a lot of users have about it) is a big component. Your personal data is the product social media sells.
From the first article: "...we need a limit on the commercial exploitation of consumer data by internet platforms. Customers understand that their “free” use of platforms like Facebook and Google gives the platforms license to exploit personal data. The problem is that platforms are using that data in ways consumers do not understand, and might not accept if they did." In addition, "There should be a statute of limitations on the use of consumer data by a platform and its customers. Perhaps that limit should be ninety days, perhaps a year. But at some point, users must have the right to renegotiate the terms of how their data is used." Consumers, not the platforms, should own their own data.
Lastly, it's long past time to end the era of the monopoly. AGAIN. I've been saying that for at least two decades. Monopolies are harmful--not only to businesses--they kill small businesses, competition, and ingenuity--but to society as well because historically (and currently) they're linked to human/worker rights abuses. (Investigate what's going on in the Prison Industrial Complex and its expansion into the incarceration of undocumented immigrants to instantly see what I mean. Look into what's going on with our Health Care System.)
The Free Market isn't free, y'all. It's a cancer, and it kills.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.