Saturday August 18, 2018
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How social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter have become the fifth pillar of democracy

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By Arnab Mitra

“The media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses,” said Malcolm X. Most of the prominent media channels today are controlled by politicians and businessman, and their news is driven by an agenda. Social media deserves to be labelled another pillar of democracy for its ability to connect people on a single platform and ensure free expression.

In the recent Delhi elections, BJP spent huge chunks of money on advertisements on major newspapers during their pre-electoral campaigns. The mainstream media was all gaga over highlighting the so called achievements of the ruling party at the Centre. Little it was known that an emerging regional party like AAP’s focus on social media will change the course of elections. The results showed that how people have shifted their faith from mainstream media to social media.

‘So what’s the stand of the fourth pillar of the democracy? If they would not speak for the cause of people’, says, Amit chatterjee student of JNU. The Arab uprising, issues on Jan Lokpal bill, Nirbhaya incident have shown that it’s the voice of an average citizen that matters. A single tweet or a FB post shows potential to unite millions and yes, they have brought together people to fight for justice, if we are to buy the recent trends.

The media since its origin has betrayed the trite. It had served as a voice of the government in the past, however giving an impression of portraying the voice of the people. From Hickey’s Gazette to Caravan and during the time of emergency, the government and the people with power have always tried to choke voices and used as to control their power.

As visible, social media promises to be a new platform for people, as the opinion is not filtered while publishing and ‘The media of the people, by the people and for the people’ stands with dignity.

 

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Twitter Wants to Revamp Its ‘Core’, Worried About The Outcome

Twitter may not have to reinvent itself completely to improve.

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The Twitter logo appears on a phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.. VOA

After long resisting change, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey wants to revamp the “core” of the service to fight rampant abuse and misinformation. But it’s not clear if changing that essence — how it rewards interactions and values popularity — would even work.

Though Dorsey was scant on details, what is certain is that the move will require huge investments for a company that doesn’t have the same resources that Google and Facebook have to throw at the problem. Any change is likely to affect how users engage with Twitter and hurt revenue, testing the patience of both users and investors.

“Social networks have a history of … well-intentioned but badly designed efforts to fix this,” said Nate Elliott, principal at marketing research firm Nineteen Insights.

Twitter isn’t alone in having to deal with hate, abuse, misinformation and bad actors using the service for elections interference, targeted harassment and scams. And Twitter isn’t alone in proposing fixes that don’t get to the heart of the problems.

Case in point: Facebook. After Russian trolls were found to have used Facebook to interfere with the 2016 U.S. elections, including by purchasing ads, the company spent a lot of time and energy building a tool that shows who’s behind political advertisements. But Elliott said it’s not even clear which ads on Facebook are the ones causing problems around foreign elections meddling. In 2016, Russian agents weren’t so much running political ads for or against candidates but rather social ads on divisive such as gun control and immigration.

But like Facebook, Twitter has to try — or at least be seen as trying.

Dorsey told The Washington Post that Twitter had not considered changing the core of the service until now. Like Facebook and others, Twitter has been accused of tinkering around the edges, tweaking policies and hiring masses of moderators when what’s really needed is a fundamental shift in how they work and how they make money in order to survive. While many former executives and other insiders have proposed radical shifts at major social networks, it’s rare for a sitting CEO to propose something as drastic as revisiting the foundation that his company is built on.

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Twitter isn’t alone in having to deal with hate. Pixabay

“We often turn to policy to fix a lot of these issues, but I think that is only treating surface-level symptoms that we are seeing,” Dorsey said.

Twitter confirmed Dorsey’s comments to the Post, but declined further comment.

Revamping the core could mean changing the engagement and rewards designed to keep users coming back — in the form of seeing their tweets liked, responded to and retweeted, and seeing their follower counts grow. It’s the tiny dopamine hits we get with each like that makes us feel better and keeps us returning for more. Take that away, and users might not want to return. In turn, advertisers might stay away, too, as they rely on monthly and daily user numbers, as well as user interactions, to gauge how well their ads work and how much to spend.

Unlike Facebook, Elliott said, Twitter doesn’t have billions of users to absorb any hits on user growth. Even if the changes work, he said, “it’s going to cost them so many users and so much money I can’t imagine them sticking with these kinds of changes.”

Paul Verna, an analyst with research firm eMarketer, also isn’t “terribly optimistic” that Twitter can make its service safer without hurting its business. The same goes for Facebook, and YouTube.

“Because they rely on an advertising business model, they need to not only continue to reach audiences, but try to get them to spend as much time on platforms as possible,” he said. “That creates an inherent tension between your business needs and being a good citizen.”

Also Read: Slow Disclosure of Tesla Raising Governance, Social Media Concerns

That said, Twitter may not have to reinvent itself completely to improve. Elliott said better policies might go a long way toward reducing the abuse. For example, it’s currently OK to harass someone on Twitter, as long as it’s not harassment based on certain categories such as gender and sexual orientation. Elliott said Twitter may just need to prohibit all harassment. (VOA)