Social media had a tough time in 2019. Facebook continued to find road blocks from regulators and barriers to new ideas like its Libra initiative. Like Google, it faced fines for not paying tax and, like almost everyone it suffered huge data breaches.
Twitter meanwhile, or more accurately Jack Dorsey, proposed that social media companies should invent a decentralised standard to control content on platforms, because the centralised operating model was breaking, if not broken.
Worse still, just before Christmas a new and highly popular social media platform called ToTok out of the United Arab Emirates, was accused of being used as a surveillance tool by the UAE Government. The advice from security experts is ‘uninstall it now’ because even though Apple and Google have taken it out of their stores, it can still spy on you as long as it is on your phone.
The fact that a Government has – allegedly – been caught using a social media platform to spy can only further the damage being inflicted on the whole social media community.
It is not just grown-ups who are now suspicious of social media. Kids too are just not trusting these platforms, or smart devices that are in their home. A recent article by John Tanner referenced research from the University of Louisville in the United States. The study found that kids were actively testing devices such as Alexa to discover just how trustworthy they are as sources of information.
This can only be good and can only help the cause.
If Twitter and Facebook cannot effectively control the content on their platforms (which they cannot) and therefore cannot control fake news (which they cannot), it seems that the solution will be in the hands and minds of the digital natives themselves. The kids.
2020 will – in all probability – be much like 2019, with news about 5G (whether real 5G or fast backhaul 5G) and AI and digital transformation plodding along as usual.
It does seem, though, that doing something about social media will become increasingly urgent. If we don’t fix it, then more and more Governments might follow the Indian example.
And simply start switching it off.