In case you missed it, Facebook banned the sharing of news in Australia last week. The new ruling was rolled out very clumsily, with the public suddenly unable to access swathes of essential information services. Look, I won’t re-hash the story. That linked article gives a pretty clear rundown of what happened.
I feel like I should be righteously indignant about this, but I’m not. I’m concerned and I’m curious. We, the users of giant “free” social media platforms, are subject to decisions made by opaque corporations and governments scrambling to keep up with changing technology. In this unexplored social, technological and legislative territory, these decisions amount to large-scale experiments with us as the lab rats.
And the two questions we may not ask ourselves enough remain:
- Are we okay with this?
- And, what’s the alternative if we aren’t?
What would communication look like if you were to give up social media? What would you miss out on if the rest of your social network stayed on there? Could your small business, hobby, desire for connection flourish without it?
As usual, I have more questions than answers. I know no one’s forcing us to stay on these big platforms, but I also realise that everyone’s situation is different. Some people depend on social media because other avenues are inaccessible to them. So to get all high and mighty about the choices people make is very often an exercise in projection.
There are flaws on both sides of the fence. Neither Facebook nor Australia’s news media have a clean track record, and the optimist in me wants to believe this is part of the shake-up needed for everyone to figure out a smart way forward. And still, I worry about those of us who would become “collateral damage” in the process. I worry that we’re the frog in the water and whoever’s turning up the temperature won’t know when to stop.
Is that paranoid and overly dramatic? I hope so. I hope that’s all it turns out to be.