As we enter into an even more confusing social media landscape, users need to adapt and educate themselves about the coming implementations. The way that users interact with social media and each other is about to experience a major shift. Facebook, Twitter and others are already looking at ways in which to deal with misinformation and/or misleading posts.
Some of these changes are why I believe that the Voice social platform is quite visionary in its approach to social fairness, transparency and equality on the internet. But before we go into the newcomer that is Voice, we need to take a moment to appreciate and look at how far social media has come in its journey to becoming the 3rd largest internet industry.
History of Social Media
Facebook (2.5 billion monthly active users worldwide)
Facebook (named TheFacebook at the time) was founded in Feb 4, 2004 as an online face book, which was basically a student directory with their photos and basic information. Initially, the site was reserved for Harvard University students, but as the site grew in popularity it was gradually made accessible to other universities in the United States and Canada. The following year (2005) TheFacebook was rolled out to highschools, then universities around the world before availing its self to employees of several companies through memberships. Another year later (2006), TheFacebook was then availed to everyone in the world aged 13 and older.
The global success of Facebook is attributed to a basket of ingredients including technological advancements, people’s need to connect instantly with friends and family. And also credit should go to how the Facebook team rolled out its expansion strategy. Today Facebook is the biggest social media platform in the world, making its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg the 8th richest person in the world, according to Forbes.
YouTube (2 billion monthly active users worldwide)
YouTube was founded in Feb 14, 2005 as a video-sharing platform where users could upload, share, and view content. The platform was founded by the trio – Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim – who all worked for the online payments giant PayPal. Just a year later (2006), YouTube was one of the fastest growing sites on the internet with an average of 100 million views per-day. This is the year Google acquired the company for a huge $1.65 billion (in stock), Google’s second largest acquisition at the time.
Today YouTube is the second most popular social media platform in the world. After garnering such global dominance of video content on the internet, many entities use the platform for their marketing needs. YouTube has become sort of a global television network with the widest array of content such as vlogs, documentaries, shows, movies and live-streamed events etc. No matter your age or preferences, there’s always something ‘now-playing’ on the YouTube global TV.
Twitter (330 million monthly active users worldwide)
At a modest 330 million users Twitter has managed to have a strong influence in the social media space. Founded in 2006, Twitter has been described as ‘the SMS of the internet’ due to its restricted number of characters to be written on each post (tweet). Jack Dorsey, one of the founders and CEO, envisioned an SMS service for the individual to communicate with a small group of people.
Twitter is unrivalled when it comes to delivering content of personalized content. Social media users are more likely to hear of breaking news on Twitter way before other platforms. It has the ability to focus on each individual and their interests compared to more wider-community focused platforms like Facebook. It is this personal connection that makes Twitter a most preferred platform by celebrities, politicians, and their followers (fans/supporters).
Why social media was created
As you’ve probably realized these social media platforms were all created in the early to mid-2000s. This was a time when software developers were beginning to utilize the great resource that is the internet. The internet is a worldwide network created specifically to connect people from all over the world. People could finally access a ‘global library’ of information from their homes, and communicate with anyone in the world via email. It didn’t take long though before the fast-paced world of the internet required something a bit more instant than electronic mail, thus social media.
Social media provides many their basic needs in the modern era. People have and will continue to seek out connection with others, whether physical or emotional, it provides us a sense of well-being. Novelty is one other basic need that may be consciously out-looked, yet it’s how we source our motivation. It is the need to do something different to avoid the boredom of routine and possible madness. But that’s debatable.
The rise (and fall?) of social media platforms
The prominence of social media sites
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube managed to surpass their competitors by design their platforms to cater to the larger public rather than focusing on niche markets. Something Myspace and LinkedIn were doing at the time and still doing. A social media platform’s success is tied to its ability to predict or create trends and implementing them on their platforms ahead of competitors.
Facebook demonstrated this on the highest stage when it announced its Libra project. It is trying to introduce a digital currency (cryptocurrency) that’ll be used for financial transactions on the internet. Kudos to Facebook for recognizing the global potential, and inevitability, of cryptocurrencies.
YouTube continues to seek ways in which they can expand their service offering. On top of all that they do – YouTube has started creating their own original content to compete with streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. YouTube Originals are series’ and films created by YouTube in order to be more competitive in the growing space of online streamed content.
Twitter has also managed to stay on top by continually adapting to the ever changing internet landscape. In recognition of an increasing amount of fake news and Deepfake media, they’ve announced intentions to introduce a new system for dealing with misinformation.
Shortcomings of social media platforms
Everyone likely has one or two things they don’t like about a social media platforms, but there’s stuff that affects the greater well-being of people as a collective. The biggest one has to be transparency. We don’t know how these sites operate, how content is targeted at us, and how our content is often used to our detriment – turning us users into the products of such platforms.
This secrecy of operations has finally been brought to light by various sources who exposed the unethical behavior that goes on behind the scenes. It turns out free doesn’t really mean free; it comes at a cost and it’s one people don’t comprehend the ramifications of.
In early 2018 Facebook was involved in a political scandal that revealed that the private information of Facebook’s users had been harvested from the social platform and used to predict and influence the results of the US presidential elections and the Brexit campaign https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Facebook%E2%80%93Cambridge_Analytica_data_scandal .
Same year (2018) Twitter was battling with its own scandal about the shadow banning of certain accounts. Shadow banning an account means its posts cannot be seen by other users on the platform thus making the account, and/or its posts, less visible when searched for.
YouTube on the other hand has taken a stance that rather exposes the kind of platform it’s become since receiving a Peabody Award in 2008. Nowadays it’s flagging videos and banning channels that have an “extremist” take on certain topics, including cryptocurrencies. It’s come a long way since being referenced as being a ‘Speakers’ Corner’ that promotes democracy.
Will all these negative issues lead to the fall of these social media giants?
Quick answer = Not in the short term. The longer answer is that these platforms still offer enough value to their users to outweigh all the negatives. The rest of the world wasn’t affected by US’ election scandal and about half of American voters were pro Trump anyways. Twitter’s shadow banning didn’t affect the large majority of its users, at least not in any alarming way for them to care. It’s a very minority of people that are affected by YouTube’s censorship of certain channels/content.
Until people are presented with alternatives to compare, they have no apparent incentives to go anywhere else because there’s really no other platforms that can cater for their needs. As a user you know how bad competing platforms are because you’ve likely tried them out before ending up where you are. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. have all been chosen by the market as the leading platforms.
Enter the alternatives
For new platforms that join the social media industry they’ll need to bring something innovative. There are gaps in the current landscape of social media that haven’t been filled yet and some we’ve covered in this article already. Facebook is community based, Twitter offers breaking news and personalized content, YouTube has video content on lock, and Instagram has pictures covered. Where’s the gap?
Back when social media platforms were first being developed, a technology to create centralized websites was innovative. However, two decades later there’s millions of websites across the world and anyone with a computer today can create a website in a day. The internet has become saturated with centralized systems and these systems run on the data we as users provide them. Thus data has become the world’s most valuable resource.
Blockchain technology has been dubbed as ‘Internet 2.0’ and accurately so because blockchain adds an underlying layer to the internet. Unlike the first iteration of the internet or the World Wide Web, blockchain’s protocol is so that data cannot be modified, creating for a trust-less internet (interconnected network).
Social as it should be
Voice is a social media platform that shows us a side we never even considered before. For most of the public, Voice will be like entering an entirely new dimension, one that sends us back to the future because it is social media re-imagined. Utilizing blockchain technology and tokenization, Voice offers its users a platform with high engagement rates, rewarding them for their interactions, and most importantly, a platform that behaves with integrity.
KYC (Know Your Customer) is a crucial requirement for joining the platform and enjoying its benefits. KYC is a form of verifying a customer/client’s identity using government issued documents such as an Identity Document (ID) or a driver’s license. On the Voice platform KYC ensures that the people you’re interacting with are real and this also plays into the ‘integrity’ bit I mentioned about the platform.
Traditional social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter actually thrive on hosting fake accounts on their platforms because they boost “user” numbers and in turn boost ad revenue. As a result of such obscure numbers these platforms can then charge high premiums to businesses that wish to advertise on them. However the issue of fake accounts doesn’t just affect businesses but also the users of such platforms and society at large. We’ve seen how far reaching this issue can be, with Facebook’s US election and Brexit scandals. This has led to more stringent rules on social media by the authorities with new rules set to roll-out this year like Twitter’s proposed community-based points system.
Blockchain will be the eventuality of all social media. That much is inevitable, based on its far superior qualities of transparency, security, efficiency and speed. All these are some of the qualities that make blockchain technology better equipped to limit and prevent the spread of misinformation.
The technology is here and its implementation is inevitable. Voice happens to be well ahead of the curve on this one. It’s the first of its kind and an experiment that’s more ethical in its approach than the stream of platforms to follow it.
Thank you for reading!
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