Social Media is a really good thing. It connects us and is a way to express our opinions and communicate with one another. In today’s world, social media is almost vital to have and very important to stay up to date. However, it can sometimes go too far and spread misinformation resulting in more political and social polarization. There are many possible ways in which this can be fixed and social media can be safe for everyone to use.
In an article from the New York Times called The Economic Case for Regulating Social Media, it talks about the issues of the business models of these social media platforms and provides potential solutions to change these models. These platforms can be a threat to society and the business models require a change and retooling to how they run the companies. The article says, “But the main hazard posed by these platforms is not aggressive pricing, abusive service or other ills often associated with monopoly. Instead, it is their contribution to the spread of misinformation, hate speech and conspiracy theories.” This is a serious issue and a huge factor into the current polarization. Studies have shown that the company’s algorithms have increased political polarization and have been a key role in promoting false beliefs about the 2020 Presidential Election, which unfortunately, was a contributor towards the cause of the tragic Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.
These business platforms use a targeted-ad business model. “These firms make money not by charging for access to content but by displaying it with finely targeted ads based on the specific types of things people have already chosen to view.” This causes people to be more addicted to these platforms exploiting more negative emotional triggers, and driving more hate speech and lies. A potential solution could be to require these platforms to abandone their current business model, and created a subscription, whereby people can gain access to the content in return for a current fee. This subscription model can definitely work for those willing to pay the fee. “The subscription model greatly weakens the incentive to offer algorithmically driven addictive content provided by individuals, editorial boards or other sources. ” There are still more downsides to this. Many low-income groups won’t be able to pay the fee, so they would have to create a modest tax credit system to pay off fees for people that can’t afford it.
This potential solution is a start and could fix this major issue of addictiveness and the spread of misinformation in social media. The bottom line is that there needs to be a change in these business models to create a more modest and humble platform, where there is no polarization, hate speech, or false beliefs.