Problems of Web 2.0 Social Networks
Traditional Social Platforms are Broken
In Web 2.0, social media platforms provide end users with free services in exchange for their personal data. As the saying goes, “If you are not paying for the product, you are the product”. According to Clario, major social media apps collect up to 79.5% of personal data from users, including but not limited to name, addresses down to hobbies and interests. Let’s take the example of Facebook (recently renamed as Meta). Facebook with over 2.89 billion monthly active users is the most popular social media worldwide. With an audience base this big, there is no surprise that 98% of Facebook’s revenue is generated through advertising. Since these platforms own and store data in one single place, they can effectively manage and monetize through selling user data to third parties for marketing purposes. End users have no control over who Facebook sells their data to and how these purchasers use their data.

Problems of Web 2.0 Social Networks

1. Unfair Creator Economy

On centralized social platforms, advertisers pay the platform for user's attention. On decentralized social platforms, platforms pay users for their attention. Creator economy is the incentivisation structure for user-generated content. Content creators on Youtube are under constant pressure of censorship and demonetisation, while creators on platforms like Instagram and TikTok often have to rely on third parties (affiliate links, merchandise sale, paid shoutouts, etc.) to generate income. For a lot of the creators, social media is their full time job and their reward should be determined by their content and engagement with their fans.

2. Authoritarian Control & Propagandas

Discovery algorithms are built with parameters to prioritize commercialisation of the corporation and sometimes to serve some political agendas. For example, certain cartoons are banned in China because they resemble a political figure. Also why show you a picture of your friend’s new dog if they can show you a picture of an attractive person that will eventually convert you to buy into that fitness program advertisement? It is difficult to balance freedom of expression and safety of the community, it is for sure too big a power and responsibility for one corporation. The future of society is community-governed.
Issues with Traditional Social Media
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