Like many, you’re probably weary of Facebook and Twitter. They’ve taken their toll on society. I know I’ve felt it. Their cultural influence is more bad than good; they need transformation. So I was stoked to find a concise booklet on the subject that resonated with me. After reading the first chapter, I felt like deleting Twitter!
As a blogger, my favorite parts of The Social Media Upheaval by Glenn Reynolds are at the beginning where the author contrasts early internet blogging with modern social media. He makes great points about their differences to show how blogging is a better form of digital communication. Pumps fists!
Along this line, Reynolds also contrasts social media with broadcast TV and radio to explain the problem with info transmission platforms like Facebook and Twitter. It’s because of the added interaction.
This non-fiction booklet is more like a really long blog post. You can read it in one sitting, take notes, and end up with a good idea of how social media should be transformed. And if you’re not already convinced that social media has caused upheaval or needs to be upheaved itself, you will be.
To that end, if you know someone who is unaware of the downsides of social media, this book might be worth handing to them. Maybe they’ve sensed a problem but can’t quite put their finger on it. This book shines the spotlight as needed.
The first part of the book focuses on the fundamental weaknesses of social media, that it’s:
- Too Fast
- Too Incomplete
- Too Emotional
- Too Untrustworthy
The second part of the book discusses the way to transform social media: Regulation. There are five types with pros and cons explained:
- End online anonymity
- Remove section 230 immunity
- Increase user scrutiny
- Increase content scrutiny
- Algorithmic transparency
But these types of regulation are content or speech regulation, which overall do not work well enough.
So in the third part of the book, the author proposes the only type of regulation that will work: Anti-Trust.
The arguments are straightforward and easy to understand. The author makes as clear a case I’ve heard. I’m convinced that policing speech on social media is a bad idea and that policing whole platforms by breaking them up into smaller ones is best.
I also agree with the author that social media can be safely ignored otherwise. We don’t need Facebook or Twitter to exist. The internet works fine without them, and society can too. Dismantling cancerous social media monoliths into small benign parts makes sense.
With increasing awareness of social media upheaval, in both the general public and mass media, and with recent gestures towards antitrust regulation in the federal government, I am hopeful that social media transformation will begin soon. It might start today!
Books like this one by Reynolds add fuel to the fire for social media reform. If you’re aware of other similar books, please let me know!
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