We love social media sites. But do they love us back? At what point do we stand up for ourselves and say “STOP CHANGING WHAT YOU ARE! We liked you! We loved you!”
The life of a social media site is dictated by its relationship with its users. In its infancy, it’s a little glitchy and, much like an actual infant, isn’t able to do everything we want it to yet. Its teenage years are filled with parties and other fun reckless activities; inviting the people you want to hang out with and your parents are none the wiser. And then in adulthood it gets shouted out by a CNN article, recognizes the value of a dollar and starts selling out all of its friends, doing anything for a buck until eventually we all desert it. Then it’s alone and then it dies.
We live in the age of social media; a red dawn where sites become part of our every day lives and integral parts to the way we function. But at what point does this relationship become an abusive one? Our friends all see it, but we won’t listen.
Here are what I find to be the tipping points of a social media site into an abusive user-site relationship:
Site updates change from cool new features you wished would come to odd new features you wish would go away –
When a new site arises, its updates are always giving the users more accessibility, almost as if saying “we’ve heard you and we’ve changed it to what you’ve wanted.” Whether this be the ability to tag people in posts, a more customizable look to your page, or new filters that help you take cooler photos. It’s once the changes shift into the “you can no longer do _______” phase that the decline begins. Those new changes seem to say “we’ve heard the people with money so we’ve changed it to what they’ve wanted.” These updates are the site saying “we know what you want better than you know what you want.” For example: Facebook timeline, promoted trends on twitter, or a new user agreement that claims the ability to sell your Instagram photos.
Brand Pages/Accounts –
Corporations are not people, so we need to stop letting our social media sites treat them like they are. When BP gets a twitter account or starts asking you to like them on Facebook, the social networking features of the site are slowly gearing up to change into an advertising feature. If the site were a human body, this would be one of the first signs that you should go see an oncologist because you might have cancer.
Advertisers can now buy your eyes
Advertisers view social media sites like fishing in a bucket, so if the bucket starts giving them fishing poles, we as the fish are in a lot of trouble. Granted an advertiser isn’t going to scale you, gut you, and cook you but they ARE trying to use you to feed their family, so the metaphor holds up. Once a site starts to accept money from advertisers to promote their product in the intrusive ways we’ve seen (timeline posts, promoted tweets, etc.) the users become the product being sold. You’re being objectified, and you shouldn’t stand for it. “But, the site’s really a great guy. He lets me post pictures and talk to my friends… He only forces advertisers upon me sometimes.” Starting to sound familiar?
They start using your name to promote brands (they sell you)
Just because you’re a member of a social media site doesn’t mean you should subject yourself to letting your name and image be tied to brands with no monetary compensation. At what point did we agree that clicking “like” or “follow” on a brand page gave them the authority to use us to advertise to our friends? Probably buried deep somewhere in the site’s terms of service that less than one percent of the site’s users have read. This is just the thing that Instagram came under fire for late last year, yet we blindly accept from Twitter and Facebook. When a site starts burying language in their terms of service that they can sell “you” or your creative works, I’m ready for a new site.
So who is up for the challenge of creating the next big social media site that users are craving? I promise you’ll be a billionaire and I only want 10%.
Nation, what are your thoughts on Facebook and Twitter? Are you sick of them or okay with it?
I should also add that these thoughts are mine and mine alone and are not necessarily the opinions of SourceFed or anyone affiliated.