This morning the first sentence my son said when he woke up was: “Dad, is Whatsapp back?”. I don’t think he was the only one who asked this question. Yesterday’s blocking of Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram was particularly long and reminded us once again that we cannot and do not want to do without social networks.
Yet another episode of the Facebook Files saga took place yesterday, the Wall Street Journal investigation that has been publishing internal documents for weeks that reveal how Mark Zuckerberg and his people know very well about certain possible harmful effects of how social networks work but they do not avoid them, on the contrary, they have incentivized them, to increase our online activity and therefore their profits. Let’s clarify: it is not social networks that are wrong in themselves, it is the algorithms that govern them that have been badly designed if they incentivize, and reward, our worst instincts: shooting lies, attacking others, arguing.
Epper, having said that social networks can and must change, we must not make the mistake of believing that before Facebook we lived in a beautiful world. That before in the history of humanity there have been no massacres, violence, abuse, scams. That we were all always kind before. Social networks, as they work now, amplify and multiply our worst sides. But Mark Zuckerberg did not invent the evil of the world, he simply profits from it. And so while we rightly worry about having better social networks, let’s remember to fight the injustices and abuses that take place off the net. It is convenient to think that it is always all the fault of social media, but this is also fake news.