How cities can serve as a model for social media platforms to build better community spaces

Eli Pariser is the author of The Filter Bubble, a book which lent its name to a recent Congressional bill about social media transparency. He’s also one of the co-founders of Upworthy (and, full disclosure, my former boss).

In other words, Pariser has spent most of his professional life obsessing over how to harness the power of the internet for good, particularly when it comes to positive community building. In a new TED Talk (below), he takes an almost anthropological approach to solving the many, many issues faced by major social media companies right now. It’s a useful and insightful perspective, particularly for a time when Facebook is cowering under the pressure of conservative conspiracy theorists, while Twitter took the approach and ended up empowering oil companies by throttling climate activists.

I think there’s something to be said about building online communities in the same way we build urban ones. As much as people might long for the peace and quiet of a nice home in the suburbs, it also changes your relationship to the people around you. Look at cars, for example—they’re a necessity in most places, and undeniably convenient, but they also isolate us in our commuter bubbles. By contrast, public transportation forces you to interact with other kinds of people who you might otherwise not cross paths with. That can help create empathic bonds (even if that bond is built upon complaints about public transportation). This is not to say that one is necessarily better than the other; in his speech, Pariser also cites the community meetings he attended growing up in a small town in Maine as one model for building mutual respect, even when people are being obnoxious. Read the rest

Facebook is social media for old people

A new Pew survey is out, and it shows that teens are losing interest in Facebook. My daughters don't have accounts and the younger one never bothered to sign up. Who can blame them? It's no fun and the user interface has been hideous since the day it launched.

From Pew's “Teens, Social Media & Technology" as reported by Fast Company:

Here are the platforms teens say they use the most in 2018:

YouTube: 85% of teens use the platform Instagram: 72% Snapchat: 69% Facebook: 51% Twitter: 32% Reddit: 7% None of the above: 3%

Compare that with the platforms teens said they used the most in 2015:

Facebook: 71% Instagram: 52% Snapchat: 41% Twitter: 33% Google +: 33% Vine: 24% Tumblr: 14%

Two things: 1) Instagram is owned by Facebook, and anyone who has an Instagram account will be barraged with pleas to join Facebook. 2) I wonder if Snapchat adoption is declining. My kids said they don't like it any more and their friends have all switched over to Instagram. Read the rest

App replaces Twitter with Kindle

Maybe 2018 will be the year of social media burnout. A lot of people I know are quitting Twitter and Facebook because the're sick of the trolls and Nazis that neither social network seems to care about. A spate of research suggests that social media makes people depressed, too.

Here's a funny placeholder app that reflects the zeitgeist. It's called Placeholder Twitter and it "does nothing but reroute you to the Kindle app." Read the rest