People talk of trolls, fake news and acerbic comments on social media. The presidential election brought these even more to the fore. Yet, far worse social media dangers exist.
We don’t see them though because firms remove them. It’s here insights into social media’s future rest. Control and censorship dominate that future.
Unseen Social Media Dangers
Wired magazine’s article, “The Laborers Who Keep Dick Pics and Beheadings Out of Your Facebook Feed,” opened my eyes to these dangers. In the Philippines is a “massive labor force that handles ‘content moderation’ – the removal of offensive material – for US social-networking sites.” “An army of workers soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us.” They might “very well comprise as much as half the total workforce for social media sites.”
This work takes a toll on these workers. Some suffer PTSD. They see humanity at its worse. Paranoia infects them. They begin to expect the worst in people.
Trolls, fake news and acerbic comments are milder forms. Still, they affect how people see others. They discourage free expression, even offline. People, especially women, have come to fear attacks by the minions of super trolls.
What we don’t see here is that trolls can be anyone. According to Time, they aren’t just some teen living in his parent’s basement chugging soda liters. They’ve identified them as “a doctor, lawyer, an inspirational speaker, a kindergarten teacher. They’d send lovely gifts and be a normal person.”
Social Media Censorship and Control
As a result sites like YouTube remove the filthiest comments. Facebook and Google also committed to tackling fake news. How many friends are swearing off Facebook because of those attacking their political views?
Moreover, content moderators only protect their clients not the nation. That means child porn is more likely to be censored than terrorism. Social media find it difficult to shutdown terrorists. Thus, in the name of national security, pressure for government controls mount.
Social Media Future
Social media is evolving very much like the Wild West of the U.S. did. As commercial and safety interests rise, people want more safeguards. That means more control and censorship by businesses and governments.
What we don’t see is just how controlled and censored social media already is. We think it’s pretty open. We don’t see the real dangers content moderators fight outside the huge digital castle firewalls social media firms have built for us.
Yet, once we know of these unseen dangers, it becomes easier to see the trend, progression and future of social media. Efforts to protect us from the worse of humanity will only rise.