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The end is nigh for social media

Jun 13, 2017

I write this in the shadow of the terrorist attack in Manchester.  Within minutes of the attack there were postings on Facebook with false reports of missing children and other seemingly-intentional hoaxes. Disgusting! 

With the rise of social media, the truth seems to be of no importance.  With Facebook itself being designated a ‘platform’ not a publisher, it claims to have no more responsibility for the content than does a paper manufacturer have for words written on its product.  Other social media outlets would think the same I presume. 

As well as publishing The Mover, I have been a PR man for 25 years.  If I submit something to a magazine for publishing I had better make sure it’s right.  If not, the publisher, the client and I could all be for the high jump if the lawyers spot it.  As the publisher of The Mover, I have a responsibility to print the truth.  I don’t have the resources to check everything, so I have to rely on contributors’ honesty to some extent, but I am still responsible.  People can publish any old rubbish on Facebook without fear of reprisal.  That’s not really fair competition is it? 

Many companies use social media as part of their promotional activity.  It’s a very good way of getting messages to a large number of people very quickly.  Some even prefer to spend money promoting through social media rather than though more traditional channels.  But the falsehoods and nonsense peddled on social media are destroying its credibility and, with it, the brand values of those organisations that use it to promote their wares.  The owners of Facebook too, must wince every time their ‘platform’ is implicated in portraying yet another work of malicious fiction with the aim of personal gain.  I predict that these very owners, terrified of the damage the bad publicity will do to their hard-earned brands, will soon be looking to invest elsewhere.  In my opinion we have seen the peak of social media and, in ten years from now, it won’t exist – not as we know it today anyway. It’ll be too late for me, but maybe then the old-fashioned PR man might get his job back. 

And before I put my soap box away, a word to the terrorists: your actions make us stronger not weaker.  If the Luftwaffe could not break our spirit in 1941, you certainly won’t do it now.  You need to think of some new tactics.  May I suggest dialogue.

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