Social networks have never left practically anyone indifferent. And like it or not, they have changed us as a society. So much so that some embrace them with all their might while others hate them and try to raise awareness with proposals such as The Dilemma of the Networks just released on Netflix. A documentary that highlights some of the most important challenges facing Facebook and many other platforms.
Facebook and its public image
The company led by Mark Zuckerberg has seen its public image severely punished in recent years. The reason was none other than the various scandals in which she was involved. Some of them of great repercussion and others important enough that some paid attention to them and made content such as The Dilemma of the Networks .
In this documentary that Netflix premiered not long ago, different employees of large technology companies put on the table how these platforms work when designing their tools and the user’s own interaction. A task that seeks above all the permanence of these for the maximum number of time.
This is a big problem, because sometimes the techniques do not seem to be really ethical since they seek the polarization of the content or show only what generates a certain controversy. And although it is not something that only affects Facebook, other networks such as Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter and even Google’s Gmail email service is splashed, it is true that Zuckerberg’s company is the one that has the most to prove.
Therefore, these are the challenges of Facebook to get out of the dilemma of the networks.
1. Demonstrate that they create useful and non-addictive tools
One of the first challenges is to make users see that all their news seeks to be useful and not addictive. This is quite complicated, because from the outset most of us think quite the opposite, that with them all they want is for us to spend more time using the platform.
How to turn this situation around is difficult. They already comment that they incorporate tools for the control of digital well-being in order to precisely help users to control possible addictions.
2. Use of relevant algorithms
Algorithms are already so popular that the rare thing is to find a service or website that does not use them for some other purpose. The difference is that Facebook has to show that theirs does not seek to offer only content so that you spend more time inside but so that you find things that really interest you.
The problem is that if they want to achieve this they will have to give some kind of additional option, some more control so that users can give precise indications about what they do like or not and what works. Because if it’s not like that, it’s worth nothing. And it is that, to whom it has not happened that marks something as not interesting or that he does not like and after a short time he is present again as an advertisement, suggestion, etc.
3. Secure data
Can you trust your data to Facebook ? They say yes and that third-party companies cannot access them. But in the past they did, why now must we blindly believe that they will not do it again.
Therefore, another challenge for the company is to demonstrate that this does not happen again and that its users’ data is safe on its servers. Of course they will have to work hard in this regard and improve communication in case something new happens again. Because if this is not the case, we will always have the same feeling, one that with other companies, not despite being wrong as well. But if you are clear, it is easier to empathize and think that these are things that can happen to anyone.
4. Eradicate polarization
No network or platform should position itself for or against any issue other than those that are clearly an attack on freedom and human rights. Thus, what Facebook should try is not to give visibility to all those contents that, although they fall within the freedom of expression, only seek to polarize the platform.
5. Fight fake news
Fake news or fake news are like the above, an important problem with a difficult solution. Of course, if they themselves enhance their appearance, they do not help to combat them. So again it is required that the algorithms go to the background and that a human team, with adequate tools and clear and public indications for the rest of the industry, legislators and users, know how to act in the face of certain messages.
Lies cannot be allowed, even less if they are things like the issue of flat earth, anti-vaccines, etc.
6. Show that you will never be the product
And the most difficult of all challenges, to convince yourself that you are not the product. How to do this if it turns out that you offer a platform at no cost and you live on advertising income that you boost with the information that users provide while using it?
Well, they will have to find a way to do it, to make the user see that this data can be used completely anonymously. Although that means lower performance and therefore they have to reduce what it costs advertisers to reach X users with each ad.
In summary, social networks are not going to disappear overnight and much less Facebook, which with platforms such as Instagram or WhatsApp have a great weight in society. But they do have to do their part to demonstrate to the user that their way of managing data is respectful. And if that means earning less at the cost of greater utility and value for them, go ahead.