When it comes to social networking platforms, there doesn’t seem to be any rules. This is extremely clear from Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before Congress back in April. But what’s more interesting is that social networking platforms are so new, how can there be rules? It’s such a complex idea, that there isn’t a way to compare it to a system that existed in the past. I’m thinking newspapers or even a social club. I’m talking before technology. And in those cases, you would never give out your personal information to other people. Which is why this whole notion of regulation is extremely fascinating.
The big question we have to ask is whether or not social networking is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s an extremely effective communication tool. Think about it – what was the first thing you did this morning. Did you grab your phone and check Instagram, Facebook or Twitter? If yes, you’ve just made my point for me. But because of the fact that we use it in every aspect of our culture, it’s important for us to take some time to reflect on it. Why? Think – fake news and data breaches. The Honest Data company recently did a survey which showed that Americans believed Facebook had more of a negative impact on society than McDonald’s.
The Facebook issue is really interesting, don’t you think? Facebook has been around for a while now, so we’ve lived with it. It’s baked into every aspect of our lives. People are taking a look at how social media is playing a role in politics and business. Which is great – this is something that everyone should be doing. But they should also be looking at it in terms of their everyday lives. Even though Facebook is patient zero when it comes to this situation, it’s causing a lot of people and organizations to take a hard look at their platforms. Everything we do is, in some way, embedded in the digital space. So this not only makes sense, but it’s absolutely necessary.
It’s integral that we’re having these conversations now, as we’re seeing more of these platforms expanding into “one-stop shops”. Facebook will add peer-to-peer payments through Messenger, and they are starting to stream original content and live sports through their Watch platform. Here’s where it gets interesting, in my opinion. Because platforms are expanding their offerings, younger people (Generation Z, as they’re known) are starting to find new apps – like Instagram, Pinterest, or Houseparty. These have seen growth as a result of this audience moving towards more visual mediums.
I’d like to note that I am not of Generation Z, but I would choose Instagram over Facebook any day. And yes, I know who owns the company. But it’s more about what the platform offers for me. House party, for example, has seen teenagers taking to doing their homework together. The group-video-chat app launched in 2016 and has since hosted half a billion chats. The average time spent on the app is about 51 minutes per day. And this is the direction that we’re headed. A lot of our communication is taking place online or in the digital space.
All of that said, what will happen to these social networking platforms is unknown at this point. Will they stay the same, or will the government step in and put some regulation around their operations? I’m on the fence as to whether or not this will be beneficial. I think that Facebook has a social obligation, but that is totally my opinion. I think social networking is fascinating so I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes and how regulation or even the possibility of regulation will change the scene.