Like often happens, humanity met the internet in the shape of a horseshoe. Those who first used it were the top good fellows in universities and military and the top bad guys in criminal rings. It went down to the point the most of us started using it in the nineties and at some point well into this century it reached the bottom where crocks and idiots got into it.
Back in the nineties, unchecked by most, Google and Amazon started to be. At the turn of the century, Facebook and Twitter became the place to hang out for a new generation of people. Those were among the first companies who took the potential of internet and rethought the way we researched information, shop, kept in contact with each other and shared news. And this, on its own, became a breakthrough of innovation that changed the way we lived.
Yet a huge social change was about to occur, that no one would have imagined. Despised by most, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone in 2007. Shortly after, Samsung followed suit with Google’s Android OS. A paradigm change happened that expanded like a wildfire over the US and Europe and fueled those very same Google, Amazon, Facebook and Twitter who moved over their platforms to this new category of personal computers. And the world changed, for ever.
At a point, those internet companies became advertising moguls, the day after they became a political issue. An issue of such size that neither the young and talented Silicon Valley nor the political class in the capitals could even imagine how to tackle. The former because of lack of political knowledge and expertise, the later because of lack of understanding what those platforms were and meant.
Here we are, we people, navigating a world that suddenly blew up in size and complexity. Even if our political class is catching up, we are now living times of wilderness. Millions of people are devoting hours every day working for internet platforms without knowing it. By tagging pictures in Instagram, giving up our business network to LinkedIn, or giving out our most inner thoughts to Google search or our most private conversations to Facebook. We have given so much private information to Google and Facebook that they stopped being interested on harvesting any more of it.
Millions of people are confused with the late affluence of news outlets and lost their judgement about what to read, what is right and what is questionable. And dark agents are operating in social media targeting people one by one to change their perception of the reality.
After journalists from the SZ-Zeitung published their research on the manner and methods that facebook use to remove content, A swift reaction from the German Minister of Justice urging social media companies to expedite the deletion of content that violates the German constitution and rights was reported today. Even pointing to possible penalties if those companies lag behind their offending content.
Such swiftness, if only but for this encouraging exception today, is not the strongest trait of governments and public institutions. And we would be naive unloading that burden on them.
Social media is a very fluid and agile world, and therefore extremly difficult to tackle and regulate. The social problems that social media is creating need to be solved with methods and resources inherent to social media if they have to be tackled effectively. Yet the sheer amount of content that social media companies garner can not possibly be regulated by those companies. The effort is far too huge. There is an intrinsic and bold asymmetry between the infrastructure and the user base.
A different approach is required. We, all of us, have to join our efforts and help our institutions and governments keep social media within the legal framework of our constitutions and laws if we want it to happen any time in the future.
The blockchain technology could be brought to be the backbone of a global reputation and refutation system. Much alike the scientific community does but using the trust-less character of the blockchain hence without the gateway of having to be an accredited scientist to have your say. Starting by attributing each person a base reputation index based on education level and let it develop further by using a reputation-currency.
Ten or eight years ago, we heard of twitter and facebook. We already had forums, email, myspace, chatrooms. Twitter and facebook were however sleek, fancy and intuitive. We embraced them and set our social groups; family, friends, even people out of our circles that we admired and now we could read their thoughts in a very direct way. Smartphones became ubiquitous shortly after, and all that internet social connectivity and goodness was now very close to us. At all times.
We learned to appreciate those spaces. They became intimate and we happened to open up to strangers too in those circles, and the world was great, exciting and promising. The promise of connecting people across boundaries, races, ideologies, religions.
Slowly, uninvited “others” started gaining space in our intimate places, whose we did not invite. First an annoyance, yet only a small annoyance. Still we could carry on if only we were ignoring those small interjections that month by month were gaining more social real state in our until now perceptively intimate spaces.
At some point, the sheer amount of information that started finding its way into our now quite crowded social spaces became out of control. We anxiously tried to keep at pace with our timelines, and at last, we became disconnected from our families, friends, and those spread about the world whom we devoted admiration.
There must be a point where our brains are clogged with so much information that reach to us, that we cannot anymore see what we want to look at. Our eyes are not anymore connected to our brains. And we start living in a reality that we do not perceive through our eyes but is being described to us by those uninvited “others”.
Those “others” simply pay to push information to us. And incidentally their agendas do not necessarily keep our best interests, or the best interests of our families and friends at its core. In the best case, they only want to make us believe we need something we didn’t know even existed until now, and it may be a great discovery though! In the worst case they may have more obscure aims.