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When Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004, it was designed as a way for Ivy-league uni students to interact and share their personalities, pictures, and aspects of their lives over a (at least at the time, relatively) secure website where one user could only access the page of another if they were first invited to do so. It was the most globally-downloaded app during the smart phone boom of the 2010s, and, at least during its adolescence, was a mostly harmless web-based platform designed to make friends and share stories.

Cut to 2020, and Facebook has evolved (or devolved, depending on your point of view) into a new, digital form of cancer, the company accused of willingly circulating ‘fake news’, dangerous conspiracy theories, and hate speech throughout user groups compiled from its more-than two billion global daily users. And it’s not just Facebook; Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and many others all openly seed the web with similar content. Several of these platforms (largely Facebook and Twitter) have been weaponized in recent years by both domestic and foreign governments in order to sway national and international election results via the spread of misleading and out-right-false information regarding opposing political parties. On another front, Instagram’s implementation of filters and its algorithm’s demotion of body-positivity-based content has seen a massive uptick in children developing eating and anxiety disorders, as well a rise in self-harm and suicide for teenage boys and girls especially. Incredibly sexualised or violent videos circulate to preteens via Tiktok’s algorithm. TikTok itself has been decoded by programmers and cybersecurity experts who found (other than a slew of data collection law breaches that can only be described as malware) that the platform implements a tactic aimed at new users, whereby a user’s first post on the platform will garner a massive amount of views, likes, and shares, which drastically diminish after consecutive posts, leaving users trying to replicate their initial success to little avail. Remember, this platform is very popular with young people (its demographic lists 16–24 year olds as 41% of total users), and it’s using a business model which targets the self-confidence of said youth, gives them a false sense of success, then shortly thereafter leaves them wondering ‘why don’t people like my stuff as much anymore?’. And we as a society largely seem to accept this, albeit because to deny yourself or your child’s participation in an environment like TikTok (or Instagram, or Twitter, or Facebook etc.) is seen by parents and individuals alike as denying yourself or your children a place in modern society. These apps, and the companies that build them, prey on people’s fear of being left behind. Of being left out. Of social isolation… Go die, TikTok. …

About

Luke Meredith

Full-Stack Developer | Chef | Artist | Traveller | Hobbyist Writer

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