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Priceless Eyeballs


Social media platforms have a deep and enduring identity crisis. When it comes to disrupting a democratic process, they claim to be "social". And when it comes to using our data they are "media". Now the person they single-handedly catapulted to the highest office in the land is going after them.

The irony is stifling, innit?

I wait with bated breath to see if they will capitulate, run up the judicial ladder crying "Uncle," or grow some cojones? If they capitulate, they are ripe for a comeuppance.

I exited social media platforms several years ago. At my peril - I say this because I know I will fall behind as newer platforms emerge. Like TikTok. I don't use that. That will spawn other variants and I won't know about them either. I am still using WhatsApp which provides a degree of safety with encryption but it is owned by Facebook and has its share of crazies circulating unvetted nonsense. So there!

I exited because social media is the manifestation of a dangerous, unregulated, narcissistic, anarchist terrain. You can say anything and nobody cares about authenticity or accuracy. The thing that is retweeted or shared the most becomes the truth. The creators of these monsters are now feebly trying to be the arbiters of truth while their chief antagonist - who until two days ago was their chief protagonist! - threatens them with an executive order.

Are we missing the fact that social media is where most of the world gets their news? Hell, even the mainstream media lives and dies by what is tweeted! Where is the confusion about their spot in the social-media spectrum? They need to exhibit the same responsibilities and be held just as accountable as the news media. Period.

They upended a democratic election - what part of this is trivial?! They allowed Russian bots to spread misinformation. They allowed Cambridge Analytica to steal our data and manipulate our news feeds. They knew what content was illegitimate, yet they did nothing to tell consumers that the posts were suspect or fabricated. They allowed the election to be hijacked. And in the process, got into our space and into our thoughts to target us as if we are minions in a global experiment.

These platforms are propelled by a singular motivation - eyeballs driving revenue driving stock price. If you want to be a pawn in their game, go right ahead. Feel free to be the recipient of half-truths and lies. Feel free to promote their "alternate facts". Feel free to let them sell your data. Feel free to let the platforms use your data against you. Feel free to let the bad actors use these platforms to fuel the sad events in Minneapolis.

I am happy being in this small corner of the digital universe, happy in the thought that I am not on a mega platform waiting to get compromised. Foolish me. At least I don't have to live with knowing that I am bolstering today's villains and unwittingly supporting their unethical and illegitimate hold on our thoughts.

Simply put, social media cannot afford my eyeballs.


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