Despite the internet’s many benefits, its current model warps our economic system by monetizing personal data and selling it to the highest bidder. Social media has wrecked public discourse by prioritizing clicks over truth and making misinformation and outrage more profitable than facts. Advertisers constantly get scammed with programmatic advertising, and brand websites are usually a waste of money.
The technology that underpins everything we do is designed to benefit platforms over people and, as we increasingly move our lives online, is eroding the civic institutions that should strengthen and unite our society. These harms disproportionately affect individuals who are already vulnerable, driving a culture of toxic inequality. And the resulting lack of trust is threatening our very democracy.
That’s pretty profound, but it’s true.
Take the current headlines. The FBI searched MAL and Trump took the fifth in a deposition. The DOJ still hasn’t come forward with an explanation for the search but a year’s worth of law school tells me it had to be pretty severe for ANY judge to sign off on a search warrant. Yet the media is busy telling us it was about classified documents, the January 6th investigation, or…
In the meantime, according to their spokesperson, Facebook sent the personal messages of someone who got an abortion to law enforcement. They always comply with requests for information except when they are being investigated. Facebook has lied to us how many times?
Then there are the broken links that still permeate the internet. When you find a story you want to read, you get 404D, or the story is behind a paywall that most don’t want to pay for. I mean, paying for a USA Today subscription?
Not too long ago, I analyzed several clients on their programmatic ad buys. I estimated the level of fraud to be at least 60%, although it could have been higher. My EERO router comes with an additional service that blocks all ads and is the primary reason I stick with their products. Ad blockers continue to grow in use while advertisers consider new ways to interrupt us.
Some are saying that the connectivity it enables is making the world smaller and worse. They worry about fake news, surveillance, the invasion of our privacy, the exploitation of app-based workers, and the proliferation of right-wing propaganda on social media, to name a few.
The internet is broken because the internet is a business. While the issues are various and complex, they are inextricable from the fact that the internet is owned by private firms and is run for profit.
Some people spend a lot of time researching topics on the web that are important to them, like prescription medication health issues of prescription medications but are people researching stories on Trump and Republicans? Most people are tired of politics and media political stories because there is too much bullshit.
When media platforms lose readers, they usually start with layoffs but seldom address the “why?”. The reason is that your content doesn’t deserve clicks. Once you begin with conjecture, it’s hard to win back readers who want facts.
I was looking at some old saved information I had when social media was THE thing, and the so-called experts told us we had to be on social media. Where are they now? Agencies tell clients, “you have to have a website,” but they don’t explain why an ice cream brand needs one or how it will affect sales.
The internet is broken and continues to misinform and spread false information. It’s too late to try and fix it, but eventually, users will determine what succeeds and what fails.