Last year, the incredibly depressing by many counts 2016, we’ve got plenty of reasons to bark at the wrong tree. And more specifically, to claim that social media is the main reason for Brexit, Trump’s election and the hybrid war stemming from the Kremlin.
But were these reasons justified? Is Facebook, Twitter or Google guilty of spreading post-truths, false information or outright lies?
They certainly helped, but they are not the ones to blame. At least not the level we have been observing lately.
People believe in what they want to believe. And in many cases, reason plays the smallest part in someone’s thinking process. The social network’s sites have just provided a great platform to amplify the message. Any type of messages that is.
Ideas and respectively posts gain traction only when enough people are liking, commenting or sharing. This is just how the algorithms work. The more you like a Facebook post, the more it shows up in your friends’ timeline. The more you share an article, the better it ranks on Google. The more RTs and hearts a tweet has, the more Twitter prompts followers on what they had missed. These are the rules of the game, a.k.a. how the system works.
And the system got played—big time. And now we are angry – both the sore losers and sore winners.
In an ideal world, everyone who went to school will remember the horrors and consequences of the inquisition, slavery, WWI, WWII, Nazism, Stalinism, etc. And probably many do. But there is still a huge part of humankind that never digested the history lessons, never got to connect the dots and put things into perspective, so there it will never happen again.
Racism, homophobia, bigotry and even lack of common sense exist on social networks because they are real. They are part of the #ITL, #OH and #TIL tweets, just as much as our daily life. On the street, you don’t hear the message that loudly, because there are just so many people passing by. You notice it on Facebook or Twitter because everyone is there.
The real problem stems from ignorance, fear and double standards. If we really want to double down on fake news and successfully fight the hybrid war attacks, we need to be focusing more on the education and learning process. Sure, this task requires time to apply successfully. And frankly, no one wants to take the responsibility and admit that somehow, somewhen education got screwed up notoriously.
For the time being, though, let’s blame it on Facebook, Twitter and the others. Chances are that they will do something to fix the holes in the ship. But I can’t help thinking about how exactly their fixes will pan out for things like freedom of speech and self-expression. And this worries me way more than Trump sitting in the Oval Office or the UK border control asking me to show them my visa.
Copyright © 2017 Borislav Kiprin. All Rights Reserved.