Dealing with misunderstandings on so-called social media may be possible if we learn to look at them as the big city we live in. If we change our approach, we can “survive” safe in the cacophony of opinions, shared resources and information.
To a large extent, social networks resemble a huge city full of all kinds of people. Everyone wants to do something. Everyone wants to visit certain places. People live together, study together, have fun together. Then why not look at social media as a big city, says researcher Sahar Masachi of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, quoted by MIT Technology Review.
Like a big city, the world of social media has its “dark sides”. It has its own sewer, which is full of dirt and stench, it has its own criminals who are trying to realize their unhealthy ideas. This means that we have to think about social media the way city planners think about the city.
The city has its own local communities – and social networks abound in different groups, bringing together communities of people with similar interests. The city has its own rules of conduct – and social media should have its own rules of conduct – so that everyone can live in space peacefully, calmly and safely. And just as the city has its own police force, social media needs its own law enforcement officers.
The latter is of particular interest because it is in the protection of the rules that some of the biggest problems of social networks are rooted. In the real world, the authorities are investing heavily in law enforcement. However, this is difficult on social networks.
The teams of people – the moderators who take care of law and order – are small, and the individual members are overworked. They are usually low paid, sad and sometimes even depressed from their daily lives, facing ugly and traumatic effects. They cannot be effective “cops”.
In addition, in reality, each person has their own unique identity. This is not the case on the social network, where everyone can create countless profiles and present themselves as they wish.
Maybe all this would mean regulating the self-determination of participants in social networks, Masachi suggests. This will not lead to cases in which the same person has many different “images”, juggling them as he sees fit.
If we draw a parallel between the real city and the social network, then the moderators of the content should be the police – and they should have the necessary tools to do their job. In addition to being adequately rewarded, this also means being able to rely on appropriate means to gather evidence and ensure justice.
Fake profiles should be given special attention. We can imagine to what extent in the real world, if a person is arrested for a crime, it is possible that he will appear outside the prison with a completely new face and new personal documents. This should not be allowed in reality or in the virtual world.
But at the same time, we must not forget that any dark “hero” may in fact be a confused gay teenager who commits his unprecedented madness not out of malice, but out of public rejection of his difference. Maybe he is hiding and transforming because he has been rejected, oppressed, harassed.
The picture illustrates the importance of an in-depth investigation and the possibilities to pay due attention, with appropriate qualifications, to the different cases. Illustrates how important it is to invest in quality moderation and training of moderators.
Perhaps, Masachi suggests, the social network should have its own rules and mechanisms, as there are in the big city. For example, there may be limits on the size of a group in an area – just as there are limits on the height of buildings, for example. There may be basic requirements for carrying out an activity – just as in real life you need a driver’s license to drive a car.
Translated to the reality of social media, this could mean, for example, that all new profiles do not immediately receive all the features of the application – and for a period of time have a “supervisor” until they gain this access. Contextual constraints can also be introduced – similar to artificial road bumps, for example.
Of course, all this cannot happen as a one-time event. It is rather a process. And, like urban design, the process goes through many different stages. He may have his mistakes. The important thing is to learn from them.
The question remains how to make private companies – owners of existing social networks – think of their virtual worlds as urban planners for cities.