The end of social media might be the best news of our times.

The Atlantic writes that the end of social media is approaching. Let us speed up this end, and prepare the ground for something better. Brands, publishers, consumers and insitutions must act. It is in the interest of all.

Of all the things I read about Twitter, the news about the collapse of the platform advertising revenues is the best: not out of any form of Schadenfreude, but because only by removing the fuel of money can the infernal machines of social media be stopped. We must stop them social-networking platforms.

Let us think at how much we have been fooled by social platforms over the years:

1 – We have convinced ourselves that we always have something to say every day and have become workers producing content making Zuckerberg and Co. richer, not us.

2 – Media editors have become so enslaved to the audience development done via social that now the effort to relearn how to write meaningful stuff instead of clickbaits is enormous.

3 – These same media companies have wasted time with audience development tactics that can contribute little to the transition to subscription-based business models. Editorial analytics data has been telling us for years: 90% of social users produce low-quality, non-converting and additionally not-engageable traffic once you have brought them to your pages. They should leave those users where they are.

4 – And what about brands? Obsessed with social media, brands have forgotten the importance of having something original to say. They used social media mainly under the umbrella of their performance marketing departments. Result: bad content. Bad ideas. Conversion tricks.

Today, the only sensible thing to do, instead of looking for alternatives to Facebook and Twitter, is not to look for them.

The critical transition to be made, as long as social networking continues to exist, is this:

  1. Brands, for their part, must make sure to convert users to their owned media – and try to manage the conversation with these consumers outside of social – with quality editorial products, intelligent and respectful marketing messages, and good user experiences.
  2. Publishers must focus on readers and users interested in going beyond a headline. It is not true that 15-year-olds only consume news on TikTok and only for 10 seconds. Publishers must learn not to stay on the platforms but to develop products that the 15-year-olds on TikTok and 10-year-olds on Facebook, the 40-year-olds on Twitter, will want to download to their mobile phones.
  3. States must regulate and enforce the rules. And, if necessary, to ban and remove those who do not follow them. In a piece written for The Atlantic, Ian Bogost dares to say what too many have been silent about: social media has fostered a sociopathic digital society, and the damage it does is comparable to the tobacco industry. It has taken decades to reverse the trend and smoke less, but this effort has required acts of force by states: laws, texes, prohibitions, and regulations.
The debate triggered by Musk’s Twitter takeover is givies a chance to get involved and free ourselves from the yoke of social media.

Let us get back to connecting with fewer people and reading less fake news. Each of us does not deserve their own audience – really, why you believe that the whole world on Linkedin has interest in the pictures of your last demo day in Dubai? – but we all deserve to spend our time better.

Suggested reading:

“It was never a terrible idea, at least, to use computers to connect to one another on occasion, for justified reasons, and in moderation (although the risk of instrumentalizing one another was present from the outset). The problem came from doing so all the time, as a lifestyle, an aspiration, an obsession. The offer was always too good to be true, but it’s taken us two decades to realize the Faustian nature of the bargain. Someday, eventually, perhaps its web will unwind. But not soon, and not easily.”

“A year ago, when I first wrote about downscale, the ambition seemed necessary but impossible. It still feels unlikely—but perhaps newly plausible. That’s a victory, if a small one, so long as the withdrawal doesn’t drive us back to the addiction. To win the soul of social life, we must learn to muzzle it again, across the globe, among billions of people. To speak less, to fewer people and less often—and for them to do the same to you, and everyone else as well. We cannot make social media good, because it is fundamentally bad, deep in its very structure. All we can do is hope that it withers away, and play our small part in helping abandon it.”

Cover photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash