The Feudal-age of Social Networks Is Over – Here’s What’s Next

There are over 3.484 billion active social media users on scores of social networks.

The major share of these users are active on Facebook as it has 2.3 billion users. It is the most popular social network, but there always seems to be some controversy around it. When it was launched the controversy surrounding it was on who owns it. But it seemed like it went past that and grew into a social network on which one could safely converse with their friends and family. But it hasn’t been so.

One of the factors that constantly puts Facebook amid controversies is that it tracks data. This data is then used by businesses on the social networks to advertise themselves. This tracking of data has sometimes lead to the endangerment of its users. An example is the year-long data breach which lasted from 2012 to 2013. This exposed the email addresses and phone number of 6 million of its users to unauthorized viewers.

When data breaches such as these occur Facebook usually makes an announcement and asks its users to reset their passwords, but several recent controversies have shown us that it isn’t always the case. A big example of this is the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In 2015 it was reported that Cambridge Analytica a firm in the UK was harvesting data from Facebook and selling it to political organizations. These organizations then used the data to influence public opinion. Initially, Facebook refused to acknowledge these claims.

They only accepted the allegations when the whistleblower of the report, Chris Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee, came out and informed people. Facebook confirmed the data of 87 million accounts had been compromised.

This wasn’t the only controversy surrounding Facebook in 2018, there were several. Here’s a list of all of them.

And Facebook isn’t the only network where these data breaches are rampant. They occur constantly across all the big networks. Quora had one recently where over 100 million users were compromised. One more network that has suffered recently is Google+.

Another problem with all the big social networks is that they don’t reward their creators. On all of these networks the only reward you are getting is the ‘dopamine hit’ you get from the likes and comments and other forms of engagement your content gets.

How all the top social networks take advantage and get creators to contribute more and more is explained clearly by the former president of Facebook, here. “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'” “And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments.” “It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

This ‘social-validation feedback loop’ gets users to contribute more and more content. This gets people to spend more time on the site and help Facebook make more money through ads. While the contributors aren’t properly rewarded for their hard work.

In fact, Facebook actually makes it even harder for them. They constantly change their algorithm to limit reach. When Facebook first started out the feed showed all the posts. But since then they have updated their algorithm several times to limit the reach of posts. At the moment the reach of posts from Facebook pages is at its lowest ever.

The reach of profiles is a little higher, but it is still limited. Not all your friends will see your posts.

This strategy to constantly restrict post exposure is done to get people to pay for ads. Every time Facebook reduces reach its stock price goes up.

All this points to the fact that Facebook doesn’t care about its users or creators. The only thing on their mind is to increase revenue for their own business.

Facebook has also gone as far as to lie to their creators to get them to create the exact content they want. It was recently discovered that they were overstating their video watching statistics to convince businesses to contribute more video content.

All these lies and deception will only lead to one thing. That is the downfall of Facebook and other social networks akin to it that profit from insecurely tracking data and not rewarding their creators. It probably won’t happen immediately as you won’t lose billions of active users overnight, but it will happen gradually.

This is when alternate social networks that don’t track user data and properly reward their creators will dominate. Two such networks you can checkout are Diaspora and Hyperspace.

Diaspora is a social network that doesn’t use your data to make money like most networks. It is a non-profit company and has more than 1 million users. Just like on Facebook you can use hashtags, mention others and even upload photos. There are no ads on this social network and your own your data.

You can also use a pen name if you don’t want to use your real one.

While Hyperspace is a social network that rewards its content creators with cryptocurrency. It provides its users with a Universal Basic Income which is a daily allocation of AMPs (their cryptocurrency). It is given to content creators depending on how many amplifications (engagement) the content gets.

Every user who actively participates gets a daily allowance of AMPs. Even if you don’t create the content but help spread it you will be rewarded with AMPs. You will continue to receive the universal basic income everyday as long as you spend the AMPs you received earlier.

 

 

Another interesting alternative is Vero. It is an ad free network. It is also free of data mining and algorithms. It runs on a subscription based model where the users pay a fee. The initial plan was to keep it free to use for the 1st million users and then charge a fee. But since then they have extended the time and are currently still accepting new users for free. They recently hit 3 million users.
These are just a few alternate social networks that care about their users and creators. More social networks will continue to rise as the large social networks suffer more breaches and lose the trust of their users and hard-working creators. SOURCES – SocialMediaExaminer, Wikipedia, Business Insider, Axios, PC World, Statistica, Wearesocial, Reuters, Hyperspace, Diaspora, Washington Examiner, Vero Written By Brian Wang

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