23 Dec 2016

It’s a Like/Hate Relationship

The era we live in is indisputably run by technology. With these advances in tech, come advances in science, medicine, navigation, discovery – I won’t get carried away. But there’s a downside to all this development too. The effect it’s having on our future generations may not be as positive as we had originally hoped. We see regular reports of cyber-bullying, trolling and cases of digital fraud and mislead information.

Forget not, that we live in a time where technology is used as a weapon. A time where 1 million new active mobile social users are added every day (that’s 12 each second). Their influence is indoctrinating the next generation, forcing young people to gain dollar signs for eyeballs. The world’s issues are kept at arms length and masked by those seeking self-approval. At the touch of a screen, the swipe of a thumb, the tap of the “Like” button. A polished, preserved and generally false version of what we want to see. The main culprit of this is Facebook. It has a LOT to answer for. When we’re hiding behind our screens, Facebook is delivering us the news. It won’t admit to being a media conglomerate, but its impact on the world is unquestionable. It brings news on what is happening in the world and simultaneously informs you on what your circle of contacts have an opinion on.

For those who aren’t already aware, Facebook uses algorithms to decide what each user sees in their News Feeds. It gives you highlighted information based on your interests, likes and dislikes. This is a terrible way to be in charge of the news. But like I said, Facebook doesn’t call itself a media company, therefore, it has a loophole out of accepting responsibility for any trouble caused. But it’s not good enough Facebook.

During the American election back in November the corporation was accused of spreading misinformation and fake news stories that influenced how the American electorate voted. In Macedonia, teenagers were caught pushing fake news onto the social network in return for high profits. Their baseless stories generated over 140,000 shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook and is only one example of endless others like it. The culprits confessed no support for Trump, and knew the best way to generate shares was to publish sensationalist and often false content that catered to a certain demographic.

This example is just a fragment of how modern social media sites have been used to impact important world issues. Nevertheless, more people are beginning to reassess Facebook’s role as a media company and wondering how to stop the distribution of false information. Facebook themselves have even put out a vacancy for a Head of News so I guess without confession, they’re starting to take responsibility for their platform. And with an annual revenue up 56% this year over 2015, I’m sure it’s well within their budget to find the right person for the job.

This may all seem an intensified version of what’s happening – But don’t doubt that it actually IS happening. Just remember kids: Take responsibility for your opinions. Be discerning, look for information in different places. And always look for another perspective – It might just help you to make a more considerate and better-informed opinion on the important stuff.