If there is one thing that has become increasingly clear over the past few years, it is that the influence of social media and other online platforms has only gotten stronger. From the rapid spread of information to the ability to connect users from anywhere across the globe, the internet has become a vast resource for information of all kinds, for better and for worse.
Over the past several months, there has been more and more discussion by leaders and governments worldwide about the possibility of implementing regional laws that would help to limit the influence of the internet, and especially social media, on our daily lives. To learn more about what this means for you and your business, reach out to MyCity Social, a digital marketing agency in Orlando.
The Real Influence of Online Platforms
When the internet first came onto the public scene in the early 1990s, no one could have ever predicted how much influence over our daily lives it would one day have. At this point, it is nearly impossible to live without the internet. This has become even more apparent since the global COVID-19 pandemic began early last year. People are growing increasingly reliant on social media and other online platforms to carry out most of their daily activities, some of the most prevalent of which include:
- Staying connected with family and friends
- Working from home
- Attending school and college classes
Although many consider the internet to be a godsend in these recent times, allowing us to keep a safe distance from each other while still maintaining a relatively normal life, this goes to show just how dependent we’ve become on social media and the internet in general.
- The Internet as a News Source
Approximately one in five American adults claim to get the majority of their news, especially political news, from social media. Although it can be argued that it is a good thing that more people than ever now have access to the news, it is worth noting that a great deal of the news we read online, even from sources that have been reputable in the past, is not always 100% accurate.
The news market right now is more saturated than ever, so there is a ton of pressure on journalists to report on things as fast as possible to beat the competition. In this race to be first, fact-checking is sometimes not as thorough as it once was. Some less reputable news sources may not even fact check at all!
Whether the information in them is true or false, sensational stories spread like wildfire online. Even in cases where a statement is retracted, an article may have already been read and shared by hundreds, if not thousands or millions, of people by the time the change is made. With all this misinformation online, it is incredibly difficult to tell what you can and cannot believe.
- When Misinformation Goes Awry
While most reputable sources will typically retract statements if they later find out they are false, some less reputable sources, and even some individual people, will purposefully spread misinformation. They may do this to shock, anger, or attempt to prove their point to those around them. One of the most well-known recent attempts to do this was by the former U.S. President Donald Trump and his constituents during the recent election cycle.
After it was announced that Joe Biden had beaten Trump in his November re-election campaign, the former president took to social media, namely Twitter, and claimed the results were fraudulent. While some supporters of the former president condemned this willful spread of misinformation, and Twitter attempted to do their part to limit the spread of this claim, the damage was already done.
Millions of supporters across the United States became enraged at the idea that their voice was not heard during the election, and on January 6th, two weeks before Joe Biden was set to be inaugurated as President, thousands of protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol building, attempting to overthrow what they believed to be a corrupt government. These unsubstantiated claims of election fraud, which originated online and spread like wildfire, ended up causing the deaths of five people and injuring countless others.
What Governments Worldwide Are Doing to Curb the Influence
These recent attacks against the U.S. government were a wake-up call for leaders worldwide. This, along with growing concerns over citizens’ privacy online, has caused more and more nations to look for ways to limit the power of social media and other online platforms and ways to protect users’ private information as they shop and socialize on the internet.
The governments of many different countries are now voicing concerns about data sharing with foreign governments. Some countries have already taken steps to address this, including:
- Turkey, where Twitter and Pinterest are both facing operating restrictions from the government due to their unwillingness to appoint local representatives for their companies. However, some critics are concerned that the government is using this tactic to attempt to monitor users’ speech on social media.
- Australia, where an unpopular policy is being pushed by leaders that would require both Google and Facebook to pay for content they use from Australian news sources.
- India, whose government has already banned all applications originating in China due to border disputes. This ban includes the highly-popular video-sharing app TikTok, which was also under fire in the U.S. this past year.
- Europe, where representatives are trying to structure fairer operating conditions by proposing sanctions against tech companies that fail to attend hearings about tax and competition policies.
As you can see, the different policies across different countries throughout the world present a huge challenge to online platform developers. Working to meet restrictions in each country could prove to be more difficult than lawmakers are imagining.
The Implications of Limited Data Sharing
As more and more people learn about all the data social media platforms collect about their daily lives, the pressure builds for companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter to be more transparent and offer options for users to opt-out of data collection.
Apple has already taken steps to address customer concerns with the recent iOS 14 upgrade. They have made changes to their IDFA, or “Identifier for Advertisers,” policy with the most recent software update that provides users with more transparency as to exactly what information is being collected on them.
In the past, users were able to turn off data collection through their iPhone’s settings. However, the recent changes prompt a pop-up window to open with each app that asks the user if they would like to opt-in or out of these practices.
Facebook has already spoken out against this change, as they, along with Snapchat, stand to lose the most revenue from the new policy. Due to the high amount of data both companies gather, many users are expected to opt-out of collection.
While many people have concerns about the data websites and social media applications accumulate about them, this data is incredibly important when it comes to advertising and marketing practices. A big part of the strategies marketing companies use deals with targeted advertising.
Targeted advertising is a big part of the day-to-day operations of a digital marketing agency in Orlando. It helps to make sure the ad campaigns companies create are visible to the right audience and plays a huge part in both increasing revenue and optimizing advertising costs. If businesses, both big and small, can no longer use effective targeted advertising strategies, it puts more responsibility on them to directly connect with their target audience without digital marketing.
- Are New Regulations Workable?
Although these regulations may be warranted, they are likely to change every facet of how online platforms operate. The most reasonable way to go about making the changes would be to take a uniform global approach. This way, each country’s concerns could be addressed without an unreasonable amount of effort on the tech giants’ parts.
No matter how you feel about these increased regulations, one thing is for sure: online platforms have become more powerful and influential than anyone could have ever predicted. This comes with some inherent problems, and leaders need to work together on a global scale to optimize the changes.
While it may be a positive thing for the government to limit the amount of influence companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Google have, the proposed new regulations that would require these major social media platforms to be more transparent about their data collection tendencies are likely to change digital marketing as we know it.
Whether you do business on a local, regional, or global scale, your company probably relies heavily on digital marketing through online platforms. To make sure you are still able to optimize your spending, increase your revenue, and generally connect with your target audience through the internet, contact MyCity Social today. We are a digital marketing agency in Orlando committed to helping your business reach its goals.