Imagine if Facebook and other platforms were to suddenly pay users some of the profits they receive, rather than retaining it exclusively for themselves?
This is a question posed by Miranda Tan, founder and CEO of Robin8, that evokes much thought.
The New York Times reported that “Facebook disclosed to its investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously calculate, meaning that up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform.”
The social media giant is not the only platform struggling with this issue. An article from Forbes indicated that fake accounts are a problem on visual media platform Instagram. Mediakix, an influencer marketing company, released a study, discussing results from an experiment it conducted. The company created two fake accounts and updated aesthetically pleasing images, purchased fake followers, likes and comments. Both accounts managed to reach over 10,000 followers, which allowed them to have access to lucrative opportunities set aside for influencers on Instagram. Microblogging platform, Twitter, was also recently in the news regarding this fake follower issue.
Fake data — also known as “fake news” — is also a major problem for content platforms. Though the term appears to be associated with the American media, news has shown that China is combating false data as well. Tencent battles with this issue on a regular basis. The Chinese internet giant reportedly spots and deletes up to 1.4 million untrue stories a day. The article also reported that the platform blocked a total on 490 million false stories on the WeChat platform in 2017.
As mentioned earlier, fake news is a problem for media platforms all over the world. Couple that with the fake users floating on every social media platform and you have a credibility problem. It is hard to trust a platform when you are aware that a large percentage of their user base and/or content is not reliable. Content creators on these platforms struggle to get their content to their audience because of these problems. The presence of fake followers reduces the likelihood of their content receiving engagement, and it also casts doubt on the credibility of their success.
When up-and-coming content creators are found to be gaining a following most people assume their follower base largely consists of fake accounts – even if there is no proof. Without regulation of these issues, it will be hard for content creators and advertisers to receive the attention and compensation – where available – that they desire.
Readers also struggle with media aggregators and social media platforms because of the lack of trust. The high presence of fake news makes it hard for readers to buy into what they are reading, which ultimately ruins their user experience on various media platforms.
Another major issue plaguing mainstream media platforms is the lack of ownership that users have over their own data. The dominance mainstream social media platforms have over their users, strips these users of their right to control their content privacy and sharing rights. When these platforms make changes to their algorithms, many small-scale users are affected. Recently, a digital publisher was forced to shut down after its company was negatively affected by Facebook’s tweak to its algorithm.
Earlier this year, content creators across the globe were in disarray after YouTube announced the changes to its monetisation policy. Top-tier creators were all in support of the changes, emphasising the necessity for YouTube to “refine” its policy. But the community of small content creators was less than pleased. While the platform tried to press on the need for the change, it is clear that this move will benefit the top-tier creators over the lesser known ones.
Users need a platform where they can chose who to share their data to and are rewarded for their contributions to the platform – through the content they create. UNetwork, Alpha Token, and Robin8 some of the platforms working towards incorporating fairness, transparency and empowerment in the social media ecosystem. They all have the same goal in mind and are achieving it through different means of technology.
UNetwork is a content-value based prediction market platform that is focused on generating quality content. By giving users the option to create and discover content and have it rated by other users on the platform, content authenticity becomes constant. Content creators are rewarded for creating quality content, and other users are rewarded for discovering it.
Alpha Token takes a different approach to empowering content creators, readers and advertisers within the social media ecosystem. Utilising blockchain technology, it provides a transparent, decentralised platform wherein everyone within the ecosystem is recognised and rewarded for their contributions. Their tools Alpha Browser and Alpha Law are dedicated to making their approach sustainable and accessible to many people.
Lastly, Robin8, a leading influencer search engine and market place in China, makes use of artificial intelligence, big data, machine learning, and blockchain technology to level the playing field for all content creators – empowering them and rewarding them for the work they create. Tan strongly believes that the content belongs to the creators and they should not have that power taken away from them. The platform is already functional in China, with access to over 7 million users. The target is to enable everyone – inside and outside of China – to become a micro-influencer through sharing their content and making money on the Robin8 app.
Empowering users on a social media platform – through monetary compensation and total transparency – will lead to a more sustainable social media ecosystem. When users feel like they are not at the mercy of the places on which they share their data, they will be willing to invest more time and effort into creating content.
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