Even before the New Zealand massacre the consensus on whether Facebook and Twitter are good or bad was changing. Facebook is losing users in the millions (although they are being scooped up by Instagram), Governments are turning their regulatory focus on to how to control them and it is becoming a political soap box and is already being used to score points in the forthcoming US elections. Not to mention its own poor internal security.
The duplicity of Facebook, especially, is beginning to sicken the world. Now, suddenly, they are the champions of privacy (having been the exact opposite), their future will be to guard it and build a platform around it.
The term ‘too little, too late’ springs to mind.
Leaving aside the hypocrisy of the privacy platform campaign, the company’s inability to do the impossible – block videos of people being murdered before they are murdered (they took down over 1.5 million versions of the NZ incident – will be the company’s downfall.
Regulators and regulation are, by definition, always going to be playing catch up with new technology, although “the regulatory framework for telecoms worldwide has proven to be a complete disaster on all sides”. And that is a success compared to how the ‘light regulation’ for internet players has allowed a group of “Chaotic Evil Monsters” to emerge and make a ton of money out of data which isn’t (sorry, shouldn’t be) theirs to make money out of. We will resist the urge to rant about the biggest lie on the internet, instead we will let you laugh (start at 1.50).
The question is whether any technology or any human can ever achieve that impossibility. And if they cannot, then are we always going to be vulnerable to having murders and suicides available to watch?
The alternative is to close them down, which is not an option because freedom of speech is so built into our mentality that curbing it looks like dictatorship.
What is clear is that users have a choice. Instead of sharing pictures of cats being cute with everyone (sorry, our 350 close personal friends, most of whom we have never met) we will choose to share said pictures of said cats with actual friends, on platforms where we do not get ‘friend requests’ from random people or people who are related to a nephew who is 30 years younger than us. More and more, for instance, we have WhatsApp groups of family members, and you can share pictures and videos, ask advice, give opinions with people who really matter to you.
The live streamed massacre in New Zealand might not be the tipping point for this mass choice to take place but the pendulum is swinging and picking up speed. If the US prosecutors and politicians get stuck in, this will only speed things up.
And if that happens, we won’t need the regulation because no-one will be using Facebook and it will disappear anyway.