Fake news, harassment, and misinformation possess always existed, but with the particular outbreak of social media, they gained larger dimensions. At this point, we are wondering how the web impacts our decisions, great coexistence as a society, and social behaviors.
The billionaire owner of Tesla, Elon Musk, brought this topic to the table by tossing a poll on his Tweets account questioning the platform regarding its promise regarding independence of speech. Right after accomplishing this, this week, he bought nearly 10% of Twitter gives. Curious, isn’ t this?
The results of that poll were even more interesting. Most of the results, 70%, didn’ t think that Tweets rightly adheres to the guideline of freedom of speech . Anyways, it’s the biased poll since it was aimed at Musk’s followers – it’s not scientific-based at all.
During this week, Musk also made more polemic twitter posts saying that he would work to “make significant improvements to Twitter” , and made another vote, now wondering if his followers wanted an edit button . Quickly, Twitter said that Musk won’t decide on product roadmaps and that the edit switch was being created long before the billionaire’s election .
The fact is that Musk has a history of complaining about Twitter’s moderation tools, although even his anti-vaccine posts and bad “jokes” involving also Hitler were not deleted by social media platform. For Musk, due to the moderation tools, the brand new CEO of Twitter, Parag Agrawal, is compared to Joseph Stalin, for example .
Blaming Twitter, Fb, or YouTube (and even present and past generations) for preventing our free-speech is to just scratch the surface of the entire problem. Manipulation, bogus news, and even censorship look like the daily breakfast for every social media user.
The big question is: who to believe? How can we learn to trust our very own timeline? And how to prevent personal damage from it? In this article, we are going to discuss the particular mysteries about our independence of speech and social media marketing in contemporary days.
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A quick overview of the political landscape
One of the first episodes had been people start talking about this issue was with the Cambridge Analytica Scandal , which showed how the US Republican Party was incorrectly using Facebook data to construct voters’ profiles in the 2014 elections.
The reaction was the first hint showing how social media is capable of framing behaviors . And also led to many conspiracy theories, which asked the same thing: If we are being manipulated through social media, do we really have got freedom of speech?
In other scenarios, political commanders like Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, have shown their understanding for other social platforms, like Telegram, which the Brazilian court desired to block . However , some other channels, like YouTube, Tweets, and Facebook, have rejected Bolsonaro for violating the rules to avoid spreading misinformation.
But it is not all bad information and scandals. Yes, there were a lot of times social media was very useful in political scenarios.
For example , in 2011, Facebook and Twitter were very useful to arrange an violent uprising against the government in Egypt . Also, in Venezuela (where I am from), social media is very important for all those journalists that have been banned from conventional media , like radio, and TV.
And in the current Russian/Ukraine war, TikTok was used by Ukrainian influencers to share images of the war when the conventional media was not doing it. But , at the same time, the woking platform was being used to share plenty of fake information about the war as well.
What about us, manufacturers, and digital professionals—is presently there room for us in this conversation?
Even looking at both edges of the coin, it’s clear that there is a lot of debate about social media behavior and independence of expression (and this particular debate goes far past a Twitter poll).
This is important stuff for us, because digital professionals. If an internet environment is not safe and doesn’t have credibility, are you going to communicate your brand there? As billions of people use social media marketing every day, it’s impossible for the companies to not be right now there. So , it’s also the job to guarantee a healthy electronic place for everybody, right?
Lately, LinkedIn blocked job posts exclusively just for black and indigenous people in Brazil . Many large companies protested, government prosecutors opened inquiries and activists sued. This produced LinkedIn reverse its strategy, which led the company to change its policy for Latina America.
At the same time, other social media marketing platforms, like Facebook, boosted angry content among the algorithms just because it has a lot more engagement – and this triggered people to consume more time-consuming advertisements. The scandal experienced internal documents being released to the press showing, for example , that the company did nothing when it knew that Instagram could help develop mental problems among teenagers.. Facebook had even changed its title to Meta as a way to solve the crisis, as specialists analyzed .
These two episodes show that social media platforms are having complications moderating the content that their own users publish. They are businesses and want to have money. This is simply not a problem. But what about their own social responsibilities?
Another controversy occurred in 2021 during the elections in america. Twitter determined that the Trump comments for the social media platform were inciting the violence in the Oughout. S Capital . Afterwards, his account was prohibited permanently from the platform.
I actually don’ t want to make a statement if it was a good decision to remove Donald Trump’ s profile from Twitter or not. The only thing that’s crystal clear to me is: what we say on social media has a genuine impact on reality. For that reason, we ought to start thinking about accountability .
Something we need to be more concerned about is polarization, which has been a great issue in recent years. Why? Due to the fact polarization really has an effect on democracy, and it also brings hate speeches. Fb noted this and noticed it as a business opportunity, such as. But it doesn’ to help us to think inside a logical way, but rather in a very biased way.
As I said in the beginning, manipulation has always existed, but with social media it seems like people have fewer filters to know what exactly is true or reliable.
Fighting fake news and the formula
With social media, we are to both sides: we create content at the same time we consume it. A phenomenon that didn’ t happen with tv, cinema or radio, where someone spoke for the people. Now, the masses speak and consume – and promote (which makes some good points go viral, like a donation campaign, but also bad matters, like fake news and hate speech).
We, as content makers and content consumers, possess a great responsibility in looking after the kind of information we are processing every day. Learning to identify false information and fake news is vital to stop spreading the polarization on the internet.
Want to learn to identify artificial news and misinformation? Follow this advice:
- Check your unconscious prejudice. Fake news tends to strengthen negative stereotypes. So , ask yourself: is this bothering me because it is true? Or am I just being biased?
- If it has too many misspelled words or grammatical errors, question it. The same thing happens with videos or images. If they lack a lot of quality, they might not be true.
- Search the original sources: misinformation is also exaggerating the real facts.
- Stick to fact-checkers experts on social media marketing and their web pages.
- Take care with sweeping content. The real world is not a movie where you have the bad guy and the good guy. If you find something inciting violence towards anyone, don’t act strongly in response. We are humans that can solve our problems by discussing them.
As the discussion proceeds, some countries actually began discussing regulatory laws meant for social media platforms. The idea would be to go against hate speech, criminal offenses in general and harassment and build rules for the solutions to moderate this type of content. Last December, for example , Instagram’s head, Adam Mosseri, needed to talk to US Senators plus heard from them: “Self-policing depends on trust, as well as the trust is gone” . Europe is also discussing the same topic .
At the same time, the scenario is starting to change. Pinterest, for example , updated their community recommendations and algorithm in order to be a lot more inclusive, give visibility to minorities and fight false information about climate change . For brands, this means, if they want to have a higher visibility, they are going to also have to think about how they includes these minorities in their marketing communications.
Even before its scandal last year, Facebook was already trying to become more aware of some sensitive articles. In 2020, during the outbreak, lots of anti-vaccine posts had been published on social media systems to scare people and prevent them from taking their shots – Musk integrated. Taking the virality of these systems, this could cause lots of people in order to die and make the pandemic continue for longer.
In this case, each Twitter and Instagram, showed warning signals every time someone made a post about covid or vaccinations detailing the importance of protecting yourself. In the last year, Meta (Facebook and Instagram’s mother or father company) admitted to taking down 9, 2 million posts of a harassing character . Is this enough?
Also, Twitter and Instagram introduced recently that they are moving to chronological feeds to prevent users having access to only mass shared content – which usually tends to bring more artificial news, hate speech rather than give space for minorities. It’s the beginning.
If you like this particular topic, I highly recommend watching Don’t Look Up, which usually was nominated for an Oscar in 2022. In this film, the movie director Adam McKay makes a fascinating insight into how we react to social media. Moreover, he criticizes the manipulation of all types of communications enterprises.
The web is an ocean of information. The particular discussion about freedom associated with speech and society can live for a long time in our debates. It’ s up to us to keep our minds open to learn to use it positively.
To get marketers and digital specialists, the thing is: we are responsible for every content we create and promote. It’s our job to make the digital environment a place where everyone feels safe to interact with other people and with brands. With good content plus less conflict in social networking, businesses can have more in order to grow.
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