Tycoon tries to cage the social media microblogging bird

…the announcement on all sorts of new restrictions and bans being made in the middle of the 2022 World Cup Final between Argentina and France.

You can read the post by the BBC here.

…an announcement that had Fb’s account with its rival peeking behind closed palms…

….before the inevitable climbdown as I was halfway through writing this post.

Hence the post below reminded me of so much that is wrong with the footballing establishment.

The inevitable result of the corporate capture of sporting events – best seats – or armchairs in the house going to those that are not focusing on the main event. And the UK has got form on that front as the empty seats at London 2012 demonstrated to the world.

***Reclaim the game!***

Above – from the 2014 World Cup by PWEI Ft. BNegão

If the regulators in the US and EU don’t step in quickly…exactly

Hence pondering alternatives and so far following the herd and heading for the Pleistocene Megafauna site here. But that’s no substitute for over a decade’s worth of activity on the blue bird site where I must have posted/shared over half-a-million items/messages/posts which in principle can all be rediscovered and quoted back to me for better or worse. Hence why the next general election could be a strange one with the risk of it being dominated by morality-tennis between candidates from the two main parties as to which ones posted the most offensive content.

Some are already raising potential legal violations.

And Economist Frances Coppola on potential moves by US regulators

Looks like there is far, far more to come from this. Not least because having such a huge media institution under the control of an individual who appears to be making very rash decisions (including those that he has to row back from) is a big red flag to politicians and regulators. The past few months alone are enough to persuade many in high ministerial office across the world that tougher regulation will be required if only to shield their economies and societies from the fallout of such instability. Especially given the number of social and economic activities that now rely on social media and wider communications infrastructure.

There is an even stronger issue at stake for those who rely on social media to communicate with the outside world

You can only begin to appreciate just how important having social media is when your mobility is extremely limited. For example when you cannot attend that conference because of the expenses involved, or because of a chronic illness that means getting out and about even locally is a huge challenge. And that was before the first lockdown.

The drive to monetise social media vs the public interest

When I compare the early 2010s with the early 2020s, the former contained no adverts and was filled with content from people I had chosen to follow. At its best, having a few hundred people following, with a large proportion of those choosing to interact with various frequencies was when it was at its best as a tool to support communities of interest. I found this out the nice way in the early 2010s when handfuls of Puffles’ earliest followers would meet for pub lunches every so often at a pub near King’s Cross Station. What was lovely was the flow of conversation – people who had never met in person before were conversing as if they had known each other for years. I had never seen anything like it. But then my now retired Puffles account eventually got too popular to manage as a ‘community account’ – not least when it racked up over 5,000 followers. And this was despite a daily habit of culling followers who were spambots and the like. Had I left them on there, the number of followers would have been several times greater.

I look at Tw and Fb today and both sites now are hot-wired not to facilitate community building, but for adverts and sales. This is to the extent that friends and followers are actively filtered out of people’s social media feeds. It has made a very small number of men incredibly wealthy financially – and also influential politically. But at what social and environmental cost?

Do I know what will happen if/when ‘bird site’ as many are calling it, implodes? Frances Coppola again.

The fight to replace it has already begun. It feels like it’s just a matter of time – not least because of the amount of money paid over to buy it – including substantial amounts of borrowing measured in billions.

“He paid $44 billion to buy Twitter. But it wasn’t all his money. He borrowed $13 billion of it to help foot the bill, and Bloomberg News is reporting that the banks that lent him that money are now trying to offload those loans”

Justin Ho, 11 Nov 2022

And there are some very big financial names that put up huge amounts of cash to help finance the purchase – as Al Jazeera reports here. ‘What were they thinking?!?’ you might ask. As well as wondering what those loans are secured on.

I have no real idea how this will unwind, but the lessons from both the dot-com boom and bust just over 20 years ago, and the banking crisis that followed a few days later, is that a lot of people and institutions are going to get hit financially. And such are the sums involved that it could have wider economic consequences. This is before we’ve even looked at what’s happening with the whole FTX debacle – the former head of that organisation currently in custody awaiting extradition, on a range of charges, to the US authorities.

“The firm’s new chief executive, John Ray, told a US congressional committee that FTX’s collapse appeared to be the result of it being controlled by a small group of “grossly inexperienced, non-sophisticated individuals. He said he had seen “an utter lack of record-keeping – no internal controls whatsoever”.”

BBC Technology 15 Dec 2022

…Which makes me wonder what it was with the financial markets and institutions that could enable any such individuals to acquire such substantial wealth in the first place. And what were the auditors and accountancy firms involved doing?

The challenge for politicians and regulators in both cases is to ensure they are standing up for the interests of the ordinary citizens. How many of them are competent and capable of understanding what they are dealing with given the relatively new (by historical standards) technology and systems involved in all of this? After all, I have a degree in economics from the early 2000s and these types of new electronic currencies were not even on our radar in those days.

In the meantime – and as both these books explain from different perspectives, its a time for the people and politicians to learn about what we’re dealing with.

…and that amongst other things will require that long overdue renaissance in lifelong learning.

Food for thought?

%d bloggers like this: