Tag Archives: Fixing Social Media

How to Fix Social Media

A review of Parler on Renard’s website got me thinking about the mess that is social media

Image via SocialMediaExplorer.com

The bias, cliques and general toxic nature of it all has made me walk away from it entirely years ago. I’m still not sure a blog counts as social media, but this is it for me. 🙂

The reality though is that all social media platforms are EASY to fix. Easy in the sense that the solution is straight forward, but it does require work. What’s the answer? Simple:

Ages ago, back when the closest thing to social media was .vbb (virtual bulletin board – similar in form to reddit, although a little more primitive) discussion sites, I helped moderate one of the biggest ones out there. The code of conduct there was pretty straight forward. The biggest rule that we used to define Trolling and abusive behavior was:

You can debate the idea, but DO NOT attack the person making the post.

Examples (of somewhat obvious concepts):

Debate the Idea: “Tax cuts for the rich doesn’t result in them creating more jobs via reinvestment, they just horde wealth.” Controversial enough to be an example here.

Attack the Post Maker: “What kind of idiot believes that tax cuts actually help the economy?”

Do I even have to point out how one keeps the debate more focused and civil, while the other degenerates it into ad hominid personal attacks and childish name calling?

Why isn’t it done? Simple. None of the owners of these sites want to pay for moderators, and bots aren’t sophisticated enough to differentiate yet. They also avoid dealing with tantrums claiming bias if a human moderator shuts down a troll and their followers.

Yes, there’s political and (mostly) economic bias guiding these decisions also. They don’t want to take what will inevitably be a very large hit to their user bases via this rule. Personal experience has taught me that this is fairly short term though. People LOVE having the spotlight. Take it away from them, and they’ll rant and pout, but then come back and play within the rules MOST of the time because they want their stage and audience back.

The habitual rule breakers and one who will try to skirt the rules constantly… They’ll always be there, and will act even worse without that kind of rule in place.

Of course, there’s the other issue that has to be dealt with, and that takes a cultural shift: Back then, the common sense belief was that free speech and the ability to freely debate ideas was paramount.

Nowadays everybody wants to live in an echo chamber:

The biggest step to straightening out the internet and social media specifically is that the other side has a right to speak.

I’ll be blunt, if you have to resort to silencing dissenting voices via name calling, applying labels, trolling, attempting to get people banned or blocked, etc… In short, if your ideas can’t stand the light of open honest discussion, chances are you don’t understand them yourself.

Change that and implement the above rule along with a few other common sense ones (ie no advocating violence), and social media would change fairly quickly.