Been working on a ghost project over the last week, which is loosely based around popular social media networks. ‘Loosely’ because I’ve been burned several times in the past by making an idea too dependent on Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook. Policy changes, algorithm updates, API endpoint deprecation, etc. Dancing around all of that gets frustrating as hell. Yet, I’m still cognizant of the role that social media plays on the internet and in our lives. So ultimately, projects will still involve and leverage social media, but always with the caveat of ‘what if’…
This week seems like it’s turning out to be the week of ‘If’. Facebook is attempting to clamp down on ‘fake news’ by changing their news feed again (that always goes smooth, right?). They’re also planning to censor Instagram and demote content that is deemed ‘inappropriate’.
I understand their need to make these types of changes. Not only because of all the trouble they’ve gotten in with the government recently. It’s also a business move. It’s likely hard for “big” advertisers to run ads against a social network full or fraudulent news stories or images of half naked body parts. So I get it.
But the closer that Facebook/Instagram inches toward becoming more conservative, the bigger of an opening it gives for a more liberal social network to rise up in the ranks. (Note: I’m using liberal/conservative in their literal senses here. This is not a political post). What about the people who enjoy “inappropriate” content? Let’s be honest… Twitter would likely be going the way of MySpace right now if it didn’t allow pornography on it’s network. There always has been and always will be an appetite for the ‘inappropriate’ on the internet.
Far be it for me to try and predict how this will play out for FB/IG. I don’t criticize them for the move, either. You’ve got to draw a line in the sand somewhere, you can please all of the people all the time, etc etc. But these are the types of changes that help to democratize social media, even when they seem “too big to fail”. And it’s why I tend to keep them all at arms length. Because, ‘what if…’