In part 1 of this article, I talked about the bad and ugly side of Social Media that overshadows the good side. The question there was to either remove or improve the social networks. Part 2 talked about removing Social Media altogether because of its negative effects on society. Now it’s time for part 3: improving Social Media. But that’s a soft word. Let’s say: transforming.
Social media needs a paradigm shift!
New Social Media
At this point, it’s unlikely Twitter or Facebook will disappear. According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook can be killed, but only by a superior social network (No Filter by Sarah Frier, pg 64).
These networks are entrenched in society; they span the globe. Indeed, we’re entangled in a world wide web. Facebook and Twitter are not just websites, they’re cultural centers of communication. They’re planetary town halls. They are woven into the fabric of culture, for better and for worse.
If Social Media persists, there must be radical new ways to do it:
- Only paid subscriptions; no advertising-supported models.
- Only real names; no pseudonyms.
- Only individual people; no brands, companies or business pages.
- Only individual profiles; no universal aggregated feed.
- Only group feeds; small administered groups of people would have their own feed.
These ideas are necessary to try because the ways we’ve been doing Social Media continue to fail.
The New Face Of Facebook
Facebook can take radical change for the better. You and I can keep using it; we won’t need to change, Facebook will.
First, no more Newsfeed; just kill it. Go back to the original Facebook that had only profiles of everyone.
The new Social Media rejects the Newsfeed or Timeline. If I want to see what my friend said or did over the weekend, I click on his/her profile! It would be like simple blogs or tumblogs without the overhead.
For convenience, small groups could have a feed. Individual users who manage the group would moderate the feed. The feed is optional, turned off by default.
Second, no more ads. Charge $1 per month per person. I’m sure most of the 2 billion people using Facebook right now can afford that. So that would be $2 billion dollars a month in revenue from Facebook Subscribers! That is serious business.
A Facebook Subscription model would work like Netflix. You pay monthly – just $1! – for the network, and at any time you may cancel.
And your profile is saved. So if you want to return after a 2 month hiatus, no problem! Just log in and flip the payment switch. Buy some Facebook one month at a time. Take a break when you need to.
But what if Mark Zuckerberg is unwilling to change Facebook? Then you and I should move to a better platform. What other social networks are there besides Facebook and Twitter?
New social networks with real growth potential have launched before, threatening Facebook. Either Facebook copies them (SnapChat) or buys them (Instagram). Or they implode (Google+, Path)
But there are two new networks that aim to do things better: AllSocial and Bokeh.
The Facebook/Twitter Alternative
AllSocial abolishes the algorithm; it’s in opposition to Facebook. You get a user profile, and there’s a universal feed. But in that feed, you see every single post from every single friend in chronological order! There is no algorithm filtering or sorting anything. While there is content moderation, there is no censorship.
This network is young. So if you join now, you might get the username you want, like I did! Here’s my new profile.
The Instagram Alternative
Bokeh eradicates the entire advertising model of Social Media! It requires a paid subscription; there are no ads! It’s more private, there’s no algorithm for the feed, and it’s also in chronological order. Go check out my separate article here. Suffice to say that the promise and potential are so great, I backed it on Kickstarter.
For Better Or Best
Maybe I’ve been too focused on the negative effects of Social Media. To be fair, I could talk more about the utility, convenience, and fun of scrolling the Newsfeed.
But if it’s fun entertainment I’m after, then you and I both know there are far better ways to enjoy it outside of Facebook. YouTube much? Or better yet, take up a new hobby.
And though we like the utility of Facebook Groups or Marketplace, those services are elsewhere too. But they’re often overlooked. And if they don’t exist, it’s because there’s no chance for them to compete against the leviathans of Social Media.
There are real benefits to a universal platform where anyone can say or publish anything. Much good comes from such freedom of expression. Social Media is sometimes a helpful change agent.
But it’s not the only change agent, and it’s not the best. Worse is the unprecedented power of Facebook. Its vast global reach is under the ultimate control of one person. This is precarious; it could be perilous. Who can change this mighty change agent?
In any case, Social Media must change. We must transform it because it causes more harm than help in society.
So don’t hesitate to consider other social networks. Think about joining AllSocial or Bokeh. I know your friends and family might not be on those networks; maybe they’d never switch. I get it.
Change is hard, and when “everybody” is on Facebook, there’s too much inertia from the network effect to break free. It’s a real issue! But is that issue insurmountable? And is that issue greater than the negative effects of Social Media on everybody?
Talk to your friends and family. Open a good discussion (not on Facebook) about starting fresh on a new and improved social network. Invite them out for coffee and politely ask if they think current Social Media is a net negative or positive. Share this 3 part article with them.
You’ve got to give change a chance.
You are the change agent. For the better. And for the best.