A critique of social media as a centerpiece for social justice, and a possible solution.
We’re halfway through the eighth month of one of the most tumultuous years in recent history. We’re also at the end of one of the most cataclysmic summers of my life (while personally, being one of the least-eventful summers of my life).
The pandemic left many, including myself, house-ridden and forced to observe every horrifying event taking place in our country with nothing to distract us from them. We’ve seen how it exacerbated the social inequities of our country, the racial and class disparities, and the spark that ignited it all, the brutal murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis Police.
Our country’s response, reflected our frustration. Every single state in the U.S. held protests against police brutality, and quite literally the rest of the world followed suit. When myself and everyone I knew, turned to social media to express our rage and call for change, I began to see the inadequacies of the platforms these discussions were happening on.
People have flocked to apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Tik Tok, now more than ever, to garner energy and attention for activism and to demand social change. It has been inspiring to see, yet I can’t help but feel that this is extremely problematic.
These platforms simply, were not designed for that. I feel that it’s not only problematic but ironic and contradictory, to use these social media to create positive, social change.
Facebook has become fake news headquarters, and CEO Mark
Fuckerberg Zuckerberg seems completely fine with that, even determined to keep it that way. His perverse view of free-speech seeks to protect ANY speech, including: hate speech, fake speech and directly-targeted misinformation intended to manipulate people’s beliefs. [Not to mention the obscene amount of data-gathering Facebook uses to profit off of our personal information]. [And how Russia used it to rig our election, but I digress].
Twitter can be fun and a good way to get information, but it requires you to gather as much attention as possible from retweets and favorites, and subtly incentivizes sensationalism over accuracy and quality of your content (e.g. Donald Trump).
It’s character limits are intentional, to emphasize quick, snappy dialogue while effectively preventing exhaustive or comprehensive discourse.
On a recent interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on New York Times’ The Daily podcast, he admits that he would do things differently given a second chance upon creating the system that Twitter has used to grow to gigantic proportions.
“the most salacious or controversial tweets will naturally rise to the top because those are the things that people naturally click on or share without thinking about it or reply to.”– Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey
TikTok has been extremely controversial lately, in regard to its data collection and ownership by China. I’m not going to assert that it is any better or worse than the other social media giants, it is just another corrupt player in the game. Aside from the massive data collection, most prudently to me it’s owned by China, the ultimate perpetrator of censorship that actively squashes the free-speech and privacy of its citizens.
Lastly, there’s Instagram, which admittedly has been my social media of choice lately. It’s my best way of reaching a large audience and getting attention or feedback on any post. Unfortunately, it is owned by Facebook and is intended mostly for self-promotion and entertainment, rather than social change.
You are also limited as to how much you can explain yourself and your position with the information you share. Long captions are frankly a turn off to many on IG; public discussion is not ideal on a platform built for entertaining pictures and videos, though this is where much of it takes place.
This leads to scenarios like the infamous “black square.” The symbol that started with good intentions but became so contentious and misunderstood, that it backfired and even hindered people from accessing information that wanted to help.
Instagram also doesn’t let you post links unless you pay for it and register your profile as a “business account,” preventing easy accessibility to follow up and take action with the petition or story you share with others.
I tried this with my personal account, I wanted to promote my own articles from this blog on Instagram only to be BLOCKED because I included Black Lives Matter.
My point is, these social media are good at what they do, but none of them are meant for social justice. Although it is possible, it is far from ideal and not sustainable. To be fair, they never asked to be conduits of social justice, they were put in this position because they were filling a void. A void of options for organizing and spreading information that is reliable and well-intentioned.
And because of that, their inherent lack of morality, their A-politicalness, they have set the bar so low that we accept their conduct and continue to use them, accepting everything they do.
We have been left with the tools given to us by the powers perpetuating everything we are fighting against. We ended up supporting the entities actively disrupting our efforts to organize and spread useful, positive information, while distorting our view of reality, due to the lack of a better option.
But I don’t intend on just complaining about all of this to you. With the help of my intelligent and passionate, network of family and friends, we intend to provide that better option.
WeThePeople is intended as a social justice-social media. With the help of my brilliant and talented coder-cousin, Mark Kinoshita, and our intelligent friends, we are currently weeks away from launching this unprecedented app.
It is similar to great sites such as saytheirnames.carrd, however we plan to extend that service to the entire spectrum of social justice and bring it to your phone.
What separates this app, is that it was made with the intention of social justice. Credibility and accuracy is the number one priority, not sensationalism, entertainment or number of followers.
We will provide options to not only post but then TAKE ACTION. And we will provide you with everything you need to do so in one place.
We are taking measures to combat the negatives of the aforementioned platforms and fill the voids that exist within them. Such as:
- An algorithm that can measure the reliability of any given article, by comparing the language using and tone to other credible articles, as well as non-credible ones, giving it a “truth confidence” score.
- Provide voting info, local elections, polling locations, register to vote, incorporating existing similar technologies like ResistBot.
- Create a profile so that you can autofill MULTIPLE petitions seamlessly at once, similar to the functions of a great site, Care2.
A long term goal is to eventually host donation gathering. Unlike seemingly well-intentioned platforms like GoFundMe, we will not take any of the profits, 100% of the proceeds will go directly to those it is intended for.
GoFundMe collects a 2.9 percent processing fee and 30 cents on each donation. Under its previous pay structure, the company made more than $124,000 in the eight days after the Sutherland Springs shooting. –WSJ.
Eight days after the shooting, GoFundMe had netted about $124,180 based on its previous fee structure. , At the time, $1.4 million had been donated from 21,529 individual contributions – WSJ.
In 2016, the company projected revenues of $100 million. The company was valued at $600 million in 2015.– Forbes.com
If it sounds like a tall task to accomplish, well… it is. If you are interested in collaborating on this project, please contact me! E: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are looking for coders and content creators, but most importantly, passionate and socially minded people who want to make a difference. We need a diverse team of people of all genders, ethnicities, sexual orientations, from all walks of life so our team will reflect and represent the people we are striving to serve.
Thanks for reading this far and I hope I have inspired my fellow social justice warriors to help on this project or go out and help in your own way.
AND DON’T FORGET:
- Breonna Taylor’s murderers STILL HAVE NOT BEEN ARRESTED – sign the petition here.
- COVID-19 is STILL HERE, please wear a mask when you go out.
- Check out @gabsarroyo on Depop if you need fashionable and affordable, clothes and accessories!
P.S. I have been on a long hiatus from “what’s-good.” During this time I have been working on WeThePeople, a script for an upcoming short film, but mostly quarantined playing video games and hanging out with my girlfriend and roommates. I’m coming back and better, I’ll be remodeling my site, with a new LOGO and artwork done by good friend and graphic designer Nafis Etemadi of @crimewave and crimewavedesign.com.
I will be coming out with a new post every WEDNESDAY for some mid-week food for thought, so mark your calendars and get ready for WHAT’SGOODWEDNESDAY.
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