Social Media – things turn

I bet you use Facebook, Instagram & co. We all do. I even earn some of my money with it. Consulting clients how to approach best on Social Media. But what has Social Media become? At the start it was a great thing. We were able to make new friends from all over the world….we get an easy way to connect with relatives on all corners of the world without a problem. We share pictures and let them take part on our life. A great thing!

Today: Social Media is a fixed part of our life. Nearly no smartphone is without Social Media Apps. We can communicate via Messanger and we share pictures no any longer just with our friends and family but with the world. In some cases this makes sense, but it changed us. We are no longer interested in sharing our thoughts and feelings because it might be taken in the wrong way. We have supervisors and clients in our “buddy-list” so we can not say everything that comes into our minds any longer, because it can lead to serious issues in the job. We even can get fired, if we post the wrong stuff…or we don t get a job because the future employer doesn’t t like what he sees on Social Media.

We started to build “fake personalities”…a person that we may be “love to be” or that suits into the picture of the society. Ask yourself: Is that profile you have on Facebook really you? When was the last time you really had a bad day and you feel really down and you wrote that on your timeline? I bet you didn’t t do that. I don´t do it either. I have clients and supervisors that can see my Social Media activities. So to prevent getting into trouble I leave it as it is. I don´t post anything personal any longer on Social Media platforms like Facebook or Twitter. Yes, I show the pictures on Instagram because photography is my hobby. But that s it. I don t post my wedding pictures there…because it´s my personal thing. I use Social Media in any kind only for presenting my work or to share my hobby pictures with the world. But is this really the purpose of Social Media to show each other our “fake personalities”? I mean, when I scroll through my wall on Facebook, I usually see cat-content (funny videos (mostly stuff with animals), cartoons, etc) or some articles against or pro something….but the real things…the real people I don t see there anymore. The people I know start turning to think the same way…and so my wall becomes more and more just a wall of unimportance. One reason I don t like to use Facebook anymore.

The other and even more dramatic reason why I don t like Social Media anymore is the abuse of it. Since the US presidential election 2016 we get a small glimpse of how Social Media is used today to manipulate people. I mean, this kind of manipulation started way earlier…but since we all heard of Cambridge Analytica and how they collect data of Facebook users without getting any consent of those ppl…and how they use this kind of data for profiling we all should be alarmed. Social Media turned into a weapon of the powerful, the companies and the politics. Since we were so naive to share so much personal information on such platforms it is so simple to target people, cluster them and provide them with information just in the way to change their opinion on something or to strengthen it. And it s not even something “secret” just go to you Facebook Ad Manager and start to group people. You can target mostly anything you like. How old should be the person that receives your message….what kind of job he/she should have…where should he/she lives….married or single…you can basically target mostly anything. And at the end you just have to type in how much money you want to give Facebook or Google to spread your message…and that s it.

I do Google Ads as well as and Facebook Ads as part of my job … so I know some things about the offers of those two companies. Last year, I was at a workshop at the Facebook office and the sales guys seem to be pretty proud to present us with the latest developments…how smart the algorithms have become and so on and so on. What those people just forget is that we are talking about people….human beings with a free will. And companies like Facebook and Google are constantly developing their products to get smarter and smarter. And with their tracking-pixels all over they collect more and more information about each and every person that is online. They don´t even need to know your name….but I can assure you, in today’s online world they can profile you in such detail that your name is basically not necessary any longer as long as you are online. Even worse is Facebook….because here u already provide all information needed for them to match you for any kind of message. And this is where it really gets nasty. Esp. when it comes to politics. It´s a fact that political parties use “Big Data” to profile people and to provide exactly the right kind of message at the right time. It doesn’t need to be an advert. A well spread and targeted article… can have much more impact then millions of ad dollars spent on TV. Brexit wouldn´t have happened if Social Media wasn´t there to direct a certain type of people in this direction. It´s known that Boris Johnson had contact with a company named AggregateIQ that is specialized in working with Big Data to “reach new audiences” as they claim on their website. And Nigle Farage should teamed up directly with Cambridge Analytica. Companies that are specialized on collecting and analyzing large amounts of data about people and to build up strategies to get the right message to the right people at the right time.

In the US presidential election, it is pretty normal to use such Big Data as a proper way to get their messages out. But next to the normal advertising that is ok there was a large campaign going on to change peoples opinion. It is proven that news was spread out that had only one goal to change peoples point of view. And they didn´t come from the political parties. I´m not the one claiming someone specific. This is for people that like to bash each other. I try to see it a little bit more from a neutral perspective. What concerns me a lot is that months after Facebook finally took action against this kind of manipulation. You don´t have to be a genius to see that this will happen again in 2020 with the next election. No party can allow themselves to get connected with this kind of opinion building, but be sure some will try.

The last point that changed Social Media is hate. People hiding behind there fake profiles bully, spread hate, spread their racist ideology within Facebook&Co. and it seems to be a battle that can´t be won. For every bully they ban…10 new bullies appear. With the protection of anonymity, they think they are invincible. This lowers so much there anger potential barrier so much. Within the last year, it became more and more obvious that Social Networks are the perfect place for spreading racist messages. If you check out public news channels on Facebook, there is basically NO post without racist comments below. Social Media made it too easy to let these aggressions make it to the public. And since we seem to have no effective regulation on that, it gets a self-dynamic that is today hard to stop except you decide to cut it off completely.

Don´t get me wrong. The invention of Social Media itself was a great idea and a step forward in connectivity with others, but the way it´s used in todays time is wrong and led´s into a negative way.

So how to turn it right again?

Actually, I´m not sure how to fix this issue. On one handsite I would not be too sad, if large platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would be shut down. I was born in a world without Social Media. I wouldn t be sad without it. But this is nonsense. Social Media is real and we can just go back, even if it would be basically a good thing to do. So it´s up to the companies. It´s their popperty…and so it´s their responsibility as well to get things good. If Facebook & Co. are not able to manage things right. Then they need to be regulated by law, as well as what they do with the information they collect of each individual. ‘They need to invent smarter filters to recognize manipulation of people and need to be constantly monitored to see what they are doing with our personal information.

If this can be real…then Social Media might be one day again a place to stay and share. But until there …. it´s a long road.

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