Are we changing social networks?
Although our opinions may be different, social networks reinforce that humans are social and connected beings. Clearly, we are more interconnected; Barack Obama wishes us a Merry Christmas, Kanye West exposes details of his divorce, Ukrainian soldiers record TikTok videos showing scenes of war, and people share their cryptocurrency tips.
The relationship has become close, and so has their influence. We knew Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) in 2004 as the university platform that would give space to the archetypal contemporary social network; today, we can also use it to manage statistics and content promotions that increase our reach and grow our business. Our use has diversified the raison d’être of networks—for example, the emergence and vision of Meta.
When a platform points to the future, the game evolves. The same dynamic has given space to the creators of social media platforms to give their opinion on the current reality and how they could build a more practical world with their capital and ideas. It has opened up space for new perspectives.
“Given that Twitter serves as the de facto public town square, failing to adhere to free speech principles fundamentally undermines democracy. What should be done? Is a new platform needed?” tweeted Elon Musk criticizing the social network. Fast forward: he bought 9.2% of the company, becoming its largest shareholder and skyrocketing its stock value within seconds.
Days later, after the $2.9 billion transaction, Musk asked his followers if they considered it necessary to add the much-requested edit button as part of the platform’s features. A vote that Twitter (NASDAQ: TWTR) CEO Parag Agrawal asked to take very cautiously.
We are all part of the digital social experience. It should come as no surprise that the owner of SpaceX, who enjoys sharing his futuristic vision, wants to transform the network, own shares in it, and one day develop one of his own. Social media is undergoing expansion and reprogramming of how we relate to each other regardless of our beliefs, backgrounds, or socioeconomic conditions.
If we analyze the history of social networks, we can understand that it all started in small niches that gradually opened up to receive any user. The internet itself began as a military tool, and today we find gardening tips on Youtube.
The essence is still alive since SixDegrees, the first social network born in 1997. Or maybe you remember Hi5 or MySpace in the early 2000s. Today we can share a photo that evidences a historical fact and be seen in Patagonia, Argentina, or Morocco; a meme that reveals an insight so intimate but so familiar that it allows us to laugh at ourselves. Or, perhaps also give an opinion that goes viral and affects an electoral result. Anything can happen. We generate impact when we intervene.
Perhaps some may consider that many limits have been exceeded in networks, but if there is one thing we can say, the relationship between strangers has changed, and they can even be friends on social platforms despite the typical discussions in comments.
We are shocked when a social network suffers a crash such as in 2021 with Whatsapp, Instagram, and Facebook, but we faithfully wait for the faults to be fixed to continue using them. We have confidence in them, and, although not everyone agrees with the opinion of their creators, we still consider them to be a space for conversation where some rules of coexistence must still be followed.
In short, it would be a mistake to deny our influence as users and the extensive dynamic that we are creating among all of us with each publication, each connection, or each Like we give. However, whether it is convenient for us that politicians can edit their tweets is another story and a topic of discussion for the Twitter round table.