Facebook turns 12: How far have we come?
Twelve years ago on this day‚ the social media platform Facebook announced that it was open to the public‚ but how has it affected the way people interact with each other?
According to commentators on information and communications technology‚ Facebook’s biggest existential threat is that the youth are pulling away from it.
Arthur Goldstuck told TimesLIVE that there has been a big shift in how people use social media platforms over the past 10 years.
“It used to be trendy being on Facebook but now it’s old school. The younger generation is moving to other spaces they regard cool. They want to share their best moments and that’s mostly on Instagram and other spaces they can share memories‚” Goldstuck said.
“But also because Facebook is a space where people interact with people they know‚ they don’t want their family members in their business.”
However‚ this does not take away the fact that Facebook is still a dominant platform. With about 2.2 billion users‚ “it’s not Facebook vs other platforms‚ it’s Facebook plus other platforms kind of a thing‚” Goldstuck added.
According to Toby Shapshak‚ editor-in-chief of Stuff magazine‚ Facebook has a huge impact on people’s lives‚ “perhaps in a comparable way to the automobile and television. It’s impossible to think of our modern‚ online age without Facebook. I think of it as the internet’s intranet. Everyone is on it‚ everyone uses it and you can find all your old school friends on it.”
But Facebook’s legacy will be that‚ even though it is the largest network that has connected more people than ever before‚ it has been manipulated to fundamentally undermine our privacy and our democracy. The Cambridge Analytica scandal showed that Facebook can be manipulated for nefarious outcomes‚ he added.
Like the world itself‚ it is a big echo chamber‚ “you can easily find yourself only reading posts‚ and therefore seeing opinions‚ that you agree with. Facebook’s algorithms mean that whatever you press ‘like’ about will appear in your timeline more frequently – and therefore a diversity of viewpoints are unlikely to appear in your feed.
“It means people will become more narrow-minded and less tolerant of others’ viewpoints‚” Shapshak said.
The more attention people receive‚ the better they feel about themselves.
“In short‚ it’s all about how many likes you get – be it on Facebook‚ Instagram or Twitter. It’s a beauty contest online and offline‚” said Shapshak.
“Obviously‚ the more provocative someone’s posts are‚ the more likely they are to get a response (either positive or negative) so if people get more feedback for negative and provocative posts‚ then it’s probable they will continue to do that to get more attention. It’s sad but it’s true.”
There is an increasing amount of data that shows social media contributes to depression and a lack of self-worth.
Facebook said last December that “when people spend a lot of time passively consuming information — reading but not interacting with people — they report feeling worse afterward.” A shorter word for that is “depression”‚ said Shapshak.
Shapsak recalled a number of high-profile former Facebook executives who have publicly flagellated themselves for helping to create “bright dings of pseudo-pleasure” and for how “dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works”.