While there are minor reforms that I could discuss such as forcing feeds to be integrated like happened with email in the 1990s, before which Compuserve, Prodigy, Interland, the like had seperate services and one could not recieve an email from another email service. My birth was blogged by my father on Prodigy but it was inaccessible to other email services. Or outlawing algorithims that drive anger or spread mis and disinformation. I support all of that. Yet, the worst problems of social media would not be resolved by such things.
The atomization and balkanization of society by people entering echo chambers and knowing their neighbors and being integrated with their communities far less is impossible with the platforms resembling what they do now. As much as you remove bad information and tone down the heat of the rhetoric, the current model of social media, at its best, still creates echo chambers of mineral purity and news feeds might have less fake news, they’ll still have more worthless news. At its best, Ed Sheeran is more famous than Greta Thunberg and Ed Sheeran, whatever issues he may have, would probably agree that Greta Thunberg should be more famous than him. He seems like a decent enough guy who would care about the planet more than his own career but the average person likely cares about Ed Sheeran’s career more than the planet and the planet cannot survive that.
At Facebook’s most ethical, when it doesn’t abet genocide or sell personal data to the Kremlin, is selling market data and advert space and thus must orient its platform toward consumerism. The best Zuckerberg can do is sheperd uninformed pawns of capitalism. The ultimate problem, here, is consumer choice in everything. Plato was, largely, right and largely wrong about democracy. I read a philosophy textbook who had a quite retarded defense of Plato’s critique of democracy. Rather than where I see it as useful in scientific and other fields where facts should outweigh opinions, they fell into Godwin’s Law and used Hitler’s election in 1933 as an example. I was shocked at how little nuance literal PhDs in philosophy used. The Austrians became fascist basically on their very argument that the only way to avoid conquest by Germany was to become Nazi, themselves. The becoming fascist to avert Hitler failed miserably and Vienna surrendered to Berlin’s formal rule in 1938.
Democracy is appropriate for politics but not everything else. Experts in fields should have their authority respected and their positions earned via meritocracy and important institutions should not be subject to the whims of the market and that includes the fourth estate of which social media is a part. The first way of doing this is to have people’s social media accounts default to their physical community so that they know their neighbors and that social media helps create, rather than destroy, strong communities. People should not be able to choose the overwhelming majority of the people they interact with and people used not to. It creates echo chambers and the best way to ground people to earth in their facts is to keep them exposed to a diversity of opinions and worldviews of which the simplest, and best since they get to know their actual neighbors, is to use geolocation of social media accounts to make communities.
Social media should also be decentralized, perhaps franchised, to nodes in geographical communities where locally owned and/or operated businesses would sell ads for their locations and locally available services. That’s how it would generate revenue. Newsfeeds would be limited to verified news sources and would include local, regional, national, and international news and would be a mix of political, scientific, entertainment, sports, and arts news. People should not be able to, without significant effort, learn the random thoughts of a drunk person on a toilet. If a scientific breakthrough is made at the Large Hadron Collider or a major economic summit results in a multilateral treaty, then, if someone is interested or not, it would appear in their newsfeed.
I would also limit blocking and unfriending so that blocking would expire after a few months or, maybe, a year. After which, they would default back into friends. It would be one thing if ceasing all contact with someone were as big of a deal as it used to be but it’s not. As a general rule, I don’t block people or unfriend them. It is a middle finger to them and I try to stay on good or neutral terms with people, if possible, and return to good or neutral terms quickly, if not. A common and horrible cliché is that people should cut off toxic people but their definition of toxic usually is less cynaide and more a pollen allergy. Taylor Swift has never had an abusive boyfriend but through cognitive biases and yes-people among her cliques and fans has believed herself victimized to the point of burning her opponents in effigy, engaging in character assassinations on a global stage, and other cruel things. It is terrible advice to tell people to cut people off and much better advice to tell them to try and smooth things over and/or work things out. This culture needs to re-learn that supporting somebody does not mean taking their side in a dispute and sometimes means the opposite and even supporting their opponent if their opponent is right.
Social media should be an asset to community and it can be but it needs to be married to community and not divorced from it. Social media can connect people or divide them. It can give people good information, both in terms of accuracy and intellectual depth, or it can give them bad information and whatever consumerist fluff their gullets desire. The fundamental structure of the platform cannot do that, only major major changes to that structure can. Blessed will be the day when social media can make people love one another more than hate and can inform them with intellectual vitamins as opposed to intellectual cheetos.