It's Not Really Social Media, Maybe It's Anti Social Media, But Regardless, It Is Here To Stay

The President said this the other day:

The world’s always been messy… we’re just noticing now in part because of social media

I don’t think terrorists posting gruesome videos on YouTube and spreading them virally via Twitter, Facebook, and many other internet media channels is “social media”. It’s just Internet media, in which anyone can post anything on the Internet. There is nothing social about it. It’s anti-social in fact. Maybe we should call it user generated media. That’s an accurate term.

The same is true of some hacker getting access to celebrities’ nude selfies and posting them on Reddit and elsewhere. That’s not social media either. It is just Internet media.

We are going to test our notions of free speech and civil rights as we go forward. Should Twitter and YouTube be actively taking down this stuff? And if so, where is the line drawn? What do they take down and what do they leave up? They have been dealing with this issue for as long as they’ve been around but it sure seems like the stakes are getting higher and higher for them and every company that allows the posting of user generated content on their service.

The President is right about one thing. Humanity is at times horrible. Seeing that horror in your timeline next to something familiar and pleasing is deeply troubling. But we may need to get used to it. I don’t see any easy ways out of this mess.

#Current Affairs#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. Guest

    1. fredwilson

      yup. thanks!!

      1. Guest

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Guest reminds me of @TheMime on Twitter.Sometimes I RT just for fun. Although @TheMime has been silent for the past few months….— … (@TheMime) June 30, 2014

  2. RichardF

    The terrorist stuff needs to come down, I don’t see why you should make it easy for them to publish and give them a platform. Unless of course NSA and GCHQ think it’s more useful to leave it up and watch from the side.

    1. William Mougayar

      I agree. We should be able to make it more difficult for them to publicize their stuff.

    2. LE

      Unless of course NSA and GCHQ think it’s more useful to leave it up and watch from the side.Clear to me that allowing them to post has a downside that is obvious but also an upside that is obvious. Meaning at some point someone will slip up and some trace will be (in the form of either an IP address or some trace left on a captured laptop) that will allow “the company” to locate people connected to the action. Or at least some clues.Of course the perps probably think they have it all figured out and can’t be traced by posting on “internet” media. But people do make mistakes so it’s got nice honeypot potential. [1][1]

  3. leapy

    I would rather see ‘bad stuff’ than be shielded from it by people I don’t know or trust deciding what is good for me.There has always been rebellion and extremes of conflict. How can we argue against things when we don’t see the argument?

  4. Robert Heiblim

    Progress is often messy indeed. All of what horrifies has been going on for all of human history, but now we cannot act as if we are not aware of it. Is that good? On balance I think yes, as ignorance is not bliss nor does it do anything to stop the bad behavior. So while we may be horrified by what we see, perhaps it is for the good. Certainly we will now see the bad as well.

  5. JamesHRH

    Old issue – new medium.Best lessons from my time @ the S I Newhouse School of Communications:1) human brain abhors a vacuum. Children will ‘fill the space w conclusions’ after viewing adult material. So, they are not harmed by the viewing, but they may come to harmful conclusions. Your job: discuss what was viewed & shape your kids blanks.2) media cannot make you think a certain way. It can only set the agenda of what you think about.Carry on – papers handled this; then TV; the movies. Civilization will not grind to a halt.

  6. Rohan

    ‘In this world, things are getting worse and better at the same time, although the worse is more apparent because it makes so much ‘noise” | Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks(I listen to this book on Audible if I have difficulty going to sleep. It has a magical hypnotic effect that ensures I’m fast asleep within 5-7 mins.. and many lines from Tolle are wonderful)

  7. PhilipSugar

    It has been this way for ever. Think of the really objectionable books that have been published. I would give examples but I don’t even like writing them down.When my eighty year old father told me he would never get on the internet because it was a bunch of filth and porn, my point was that so is going to the bookstore. You choose what to look at and what to consume.Now of course he cannot live without high speed internet a computer and an iPad.Yes it makes it easier and quicker for mass consumption, but that really is the only difference, that has been happening in earnest since the printing press.

    1. fredwilson

      “Nothing but filth and porn”So many important things start out that way

      1. PhilipSugar

        So true. I should point out Twitter and YouTube should be able to choose what is published, no different than Barnes and Noble choosing what magazines the sell and display (interesting question: do they even publish dirty magazines anymore?)It is a tough decision because no matter what somebody will be unhappy and with today’s technology can publish their unhappiness.

        1. awaldstein

          If you own the platform your curate the content and define your market along with it.B & N does it, so everyone I think.

        2. LE

          I should point out Twitter and YouTube should be able to choose what is published, no different than Barnes and Noble choosing what magazines the sell and displayI think this can be pinned to the “adults in charge” argument as well as profitability. [1]But more importantly what the risk of not censoring would be. Risk for B&N is way greater. “Have nothing, have nothing to lose”.Barnes and Noble is a public corporation that has to make a profit. And always has been that way. Consequently they have to be careful of what they could lose if they don’t do the right thing. They can’t just easily shake the money tree for more runway/By contrast, when twitter and youtube started they were not in the same position. They weren’t making money (or anywhere close to that) and had a pot of cash (at least once they were funded) that would keep them going forever and allow them to essentially do whatever the fuck they wanted. The distinction is important.Lastly, internet services benefit by the “dead bodies on ebay” phenomena. Meaning that they actually gain greatly by allowing edgy stuff. They got more users and more attention every time some bad thing is said or is posted. Right? It’s not like they are losing business or there is going to be a serious boycott no matter what they allow. Not the same for B&N.[1] Adults in charge meaning that many internet services were started by relatively inexperienced immature people who didn’t really think like adults.

      2. Carl Rahn Griffith

        To quote The Sex Pistols: ‘The Filth and the Fury.’

  8. JimHirshfield

    Labels for the various forms of media have often been incomplete or inaccurate as media has evolved. Take…The Press – we still using printing presses?Wire (Services) – wires are everywhere for everything. same point…Cable – last I checked, we had cables connected to other forms of media.Broadcast (TV) – as if other mediums don’t broadcast?Terrestrial (Radio) – ants and plants are terrestrial; not sure how this ever applied to media.Direct (Mail) – claimed by postal; but applies to email and others.Point is, I guess we’ll always look back and see how things got named in odd or inaccurate ways.Signed,Commenter, UGC’er, User, End-user, Conversationalist, Community member, Reader, Set-of-Eyeballs, and my fave misnomer Cookie.

    1. LE

      Luckily there are no laws against making obvious points. So you’re safe for now.(Good points by the way).

      1. SubstrateUndertow

        The resident punster has some license here – n’est-ce pas?

        1. JimHirshfield

          No one takes me seriously when I’m serious?

          1. SubstrateUndertow

            I took it as two mints in one !andI alway take puns as serious – fun !

  9. Guest

    I hate voicing my political opinion online but let me start off by saying that our US president has been making a lot of excuses. Every time something goes wrong on his watch he starts blaming congress, republicans and anything else just to divert all the blame from himself. You’re in charge, man up. Stop thinking about your image as a celebrity and put the interest of the country first.In regards to the leaks, I think by Reddit and other companies taking them down is just an effort to possibly avoid any legal actions. We all know when something “good” hits the internet it will forever be there. Regular people’s nudes leak everyday and nothing is ever done about it because their not of celebrity status. If anything, Reddit is playing both sides because I’m sure they’ve received A LOT of traffic from these leaks and left them up for the first couple of days.I put a tweet on August 17 saying “Now that I’m older, I finally see how fucked up the world really is.”

  10. Lucian

    You might want to take a look at — it fixes the issues you’re talking about.

  11. Donna Brewington White

    This weekend, my brother posted a photo of a dead cat on FB with a caption, “free cat to good home, call for details.” Someone reported the photo to FB. My brothers response: “If you don’t like what I post, stay off my page.” Anyone who knows my brother will know that he can be distasteful so enter at your own risk. That to me is social. I can choose whether or not to view my brother’s FB page.A social web platform has the right to set the rules for that platform as an agreement with its users. The more we can select what we see, then I think the fewer rules needed. If we don’t like the rules, we stay off the platform. A smart platform owner will be judicious about walking that fine line. I believe Tumblr is a good example.I want to be able to choose what is on my timeline — or to be able to set some sort of guideline. Once I am no longer able to choose, then it is no longer social.

    1. JamesHRH

      Horns of the political dilemma:- neo cons…a) think that they have pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps without any systemic help at allb) are a tyranny of the minority when your actions offend my beliefs (almost always religious)- bleeding heart liberals… a) just want to take money from people who have shown they can manage it & give it to people who have shown they cannotb) are a tyranny of the minority when your words offend my beliefs (almost always sensitivity based)More great people would get into politics, if these truths dissolved.

    2. LE

      This weekend, my brother posted a photo of a dead cat on FB with a caption, “free cat to good home, call for details.” Someone reported the photo to FB. My brothers response: “If you don’t like what I post, stay off my page.”What’s interesting about the reaction to your brother’s cat picture was that people weren’t reacting to the fact that he posted a picture of a dead cat.They were reacting to the fact that he made a joke about a picture of a dead cat.The distinction is interesting. People are pissed because they aren’t willing to accept (similar to cases where Joan Rivers got in trouble) the realization that to some comedy is an art and a form of expression. No different than a painting or music or really any creative.And to go further, ironically, put in the context of a news report even more is acceptable.Nobody would ever have a problem with me (or you) writing about the fact that your brother made his comment or even repeating it directly as long as we were either neutral or somehow acknowledged that we found it distasteful.Edit: To be clear the fact that your brother did this would make me like him more, not less. Why? Because I hate boring and someone who does this is edgy and interesting and not interested in being pc.

      1. awaldstein

        Posting pictures of a dead cat makes you a jerk, nothing more.There is room in the world for jerks but that doesn’t make them any less than what they are.

        1. LE

          Posting pictures of a dead cat makes you a complete jerk, nothing more.Can’t agree. You seem to have an emotional reaction to my point without considering it fully. (Or maybe you did consider it but still had an emotional reaction).There are reason’s why someone would show an image of a dead cat or dog (or human for that matter) and not be “a complete jerk”. (And I’ve detailed just a few examples). Your statement, so absolute, doesn’t take that into account or acknowledge it at all.Lastly, as a general rule I defend someone’s right to make a joke about something as comedy [1] and the audience can decide if it’s funny or not. And I didn’t know that cats were some protected group (we have a cat by the way).[1] Not saying there isn’t a line that I draw but it’s definitely not at cats or other animals that’s for sure.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Arnold has a beloved (and quite gorgeous) cat.I wouldn’t go so far as to call my brother a jerk, probably more like emotionally detached and irreverent. I wish I knew him better. He is a half-brother, 15 years younger and we live in different states. He is incredibly and shockingly funny.I want to pay his tuition for an improv comedy course. I think he really could quit his day job.

          2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            See comments above

          3. James Ferguson @kWIQly

            The supposed *fun* in this is the self-conscious un-funniness.Distasteful behaviour was once shocking. Sadly it loses shock value as it devalues society and becomes nothing more that what it started as – distasteful.If someone want to do distasteful things (that is to others) it seems their intent is to offend.Should one offend the sociopath ?Defn. “of, relating to, or characterized by asocial or antisocial behavior or exhibiting antisocial personality disorder”If it is an illness it should be treated (to prevent further occurrences), if not it should be punished so long as society has values that warrant defense.

  12. gbrandonthomas

    The internet-powered media of today mimics the media as it was when the printing press was born. The first publications were very political, slanted – written for shock and awe rather than purpose. Then what is now known as the “main stream media” (MSM) rose, providing a filter for the muck. We are now in the muckraking stage – a new filter will rise to provide context and curation, likely with a strong technology backbone. At least, I hope so.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      “new filter(s) will rise to provide context and curation”Well. . . . Thanks Captain Obvious 🙂 meant as in jovial agreement!globally-networked algorithmic media-ecology filter-wars ?what could possibly go wrong ?media-ecology:all the ways we use communications technologies tosteer – synchronize – refocus – redirecteach other’s ways ofthinking – feeling – doingat some point man the toolmaker creates toolsets that reach beyond the competency of his own evolutionary-substrate design limitations.”every process contains the seeds(design limits) of its own destruction” – Marx”any process pushed to far will flip from tool into impediment” – McLuhanour historical track record around effectively dovetailing individualist/collectivist interdependencies via new technologies hardly inspires confidence.the individual – the family – the tribe – the nation-stateeach step up that ladder of interdependencies brought with it ever more shaky levels of complexity/volatility !next social-substrate/platform up ?unlimited, global, near instantaneous, organic social/economic interdependency !that’s us crossing the rubicon into completely uncharted seems obvious to me that, this quantum discontinuance, this new organic social territory of massive interdependencies will not be tamed, as were previous social territories, by purely statistical, self-organizing, self-interest market forces.this territory, by its inherent nature, requires a collective-social-cognizance capable of introspectively rewriting its own platform/substrate of social interdependencies.there you go – there is my class half-empty take !still my glass half-full take springs eternal !ya gotta love that opportunity-smell of “globally-synchronized organic interdependencies” in the morning !

  13. Daniel Clough

    Most things have their good and bad aspects.This is just one of the bad aspects of being able to share things and reach large amounts of people quickly.With things like this, the good things normally outweigh the bad.News is broken quicker. It’s easier to reach previous unreachable people. It’s easy to create awareness and raise money for good causes. It’s easier to meet new people who can significantly influence your life. It’s easier to grow your businesses – and in turn create jobs etc. etc.The best we can do is just figure out how to soften and manage the bad aspects, as I expect companies like FB, youtube, twitter are doing. They won’t always get it right and it’s important they keep thinking about it.It’s also important that we don’t overreact each time we see a bad aspect or the social media companies get things wrong trying to manage.

  14. John Ramirez

    I had a similar thought a while back regarding the “types” of social media when companies started using Twitter. I would say to myself ‘this isn’t “social” media, this is “corporate” media’. I think this goes toward your idea of differentiating media that exist in digital mediums where their intentions dictate what “type” of media it really is. I assume a NLP algorithm would help analyze and label each type of media in the future allowing people to filter out “type: anti-social” from my feed.

  15. William Mougayar

    Well, that same stuff used to appear in newspapers and TV, prior to the Internet.The one thing that’s beneficial to publicizing these horrible things (that have been happening for years, yes that’s true), is that we, as a collective humanity should get better at dealing with them.So are we really being more effective at that? We are in awe, and in shock and in disbelief at the sights, but I think, we, as Internet regular/normal people could do better. We are still learning to organize ourselves for advocacy related purposes online.The Internet is helping the bad guys publicize the horrible things they are doing. Are we spectators or activists?

    1. awaldstein

      The internet is letting people generally have a chance at doing what they want, coalescing around what they believe.There’s no way to parse good guys from bad policy wise except for the most blatent monstrosities.

      1. LE

        except for the most blatent monstrosities.I think that’s part of the problem. People see things as a slippery slope issue and generally aren’t willing to draw a line anywhere for fear of “what’s next”. Kind of like Nazi’s marching in Skokie Il [1] being supported (iirc?) by the ACLU. Actually not ?? my memory is correct. [2]My personal feeling is that they it would be reasonable to go so far as to criminalize possession, distribution and (hey why not!) viewing of certain types of images the same way they do with certain types of child porn. Under the assumption that viewing something makes it more likely (per my other comment) for it to happen. Is that what we want?[1]…[2]

        1. William Mougayar

          The issue is the bad guys can get as big a megaphone as anyone. That’s the essence of the Internet: openness and access to publish for anyone. I’m not sure how to change that.

        2. awaldstein

          I think there are monstrosities that are unarguable except to the monsters themselves:Racism, bigotry, murder, genocide, child abuse, animal torture, pollution.They never rise to the top on the social channels, in fact always fall off the bottom.Do I care that the internet let’s monsters create their own communities? Not really but when they break moral human code, laws shut them down.

          1. William Mougayar

            I think that some things, when exposed online can be dealt with. But for others, it doesn’t make a big difference.

  16. forefun

    The bloom is off the rose of social media Fred, what remains is the rose hip and thorny stem; hard for humanity to honestly look itself in the mirror

  17. LE

    The world’s always been messy… we’re just noticing now in part because of social mediaDepends on what the definition and scope of “always been” is.Well known phenomena that:a) people emulate what they see others do (copycat killings or the ALS Challenge as two examples) and …b) given an audience and feedback many more things will happen that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. No question that people are motivated by the potential for a large amount of people to see what they are doing or have done. In the past no way the video of a man being beheaded would ever see the light of day by the general public. Unheard of. They would write about it or talk about it but that’s not the same.If a head is cut off and there is no visual image it has limited reach. Hence the benefit of the act is clearly less and it becomes less likely to happen.Likewise with nude selfies the buzz that a hacker gets by being able to take credit (even in their own mind) with something that becomes notorious is vastly greater than if only his buddies would know about it.

  18. Eleanor Haas

    Sure it’s social media – even when not the kind you like. Just finished Bernstein’s excellent bio of Thos. Jefferson. Our country’s great commitment to free speech is still an experiment! These questions have raged for more than 200 years! All that’s changed are the media.

  19. William Mougayar

    Well. It used to be done on Radio, TV, and Newspapers (the old media). Terrorists and bad actors have been known to have their own radios, tv stations and newspapers in some parts of the world where they operate.With the Internet, the amplification is more global and more rapid, plus there’s a way for anyone to react to it.But I can tell you one thing. I’m not sure what effects these online things are really having, except to sensationalize what is already happening. The real theatre is on the ground. The online media war is an artifact of reality, in my opinion. It is not changing the reality on the ground. Reality on the ground must be dealt with, directly and with direct means.

  20. Jeff

    Wrote similar today. At the same time what about individual responsibility? Is it smart to tKe naked pictures if yourself and upload them anywhere? If you are willing to accept the consequences then do it. But don’t be alarmed by the consequences because you won’t control them.We notice it more because it’s more shocking and it’s easily shared. I am for free speech. I am also for the public responsibility that comes with it

    1. fredwilson

      i agree with you 100%

  21. LIAD

    In UK at least, incitement to ethnic/racial hatred or violence is illegal. If legislation like that can be agreed across party lines – it should be a simple to put a policy in place within an individual a quote lately that software ultimately resembles it’s creator’s values. – a me a company that values free speech above all else and i’ll show you a ….

  22. ErikSchwartz

    “I don’t think terrorists posting gruesome videos on YouTube and spreading them virally via Twitter, Facebook, and many other internet media channels is “social media”. “I totally disagree. It spreads under exactly the same mechanics that Seth Godin described 10 years ago in his “What makes an Idea Viral” essay. Always worth a reread…No one “sends” an idea unless:a. they understand itb. they want it to spreadc. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mindd. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefitsNo one “gets” an idea unless:a. the first impression demands further investigationb. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new ideac. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time

    1. fredwilson

      viral media and social media are not the same thing

      1. ErikSchwartz

        I suppose not, but given the corporatization of social media virality and platform are really the only common threads between @eriks and @VirginAmericaSo how are we defining social media these days?

    2. LE

      Agree and thanks for posting that (especially the summary so it’s not necessary to click on the link and read the entire thing ..)I would add to “c” that sometimes the “believe” is much more important than the reality. In other words doesn’t matter if it does enhance their power as long as they think that it does.

  23. Tom Labus

    These guys are terrorizing the Net just like they do the real world.Ignorance, weapons and lots of cash is a deadly combo.

  24. sigmaalgebra

    Ah, Fred, after Lake Como, you’re bringing up ugly stuff! But we may need to get used to it. I don’t see any easy ways out of this mess. For “easy ways out of this mess”: Media source reputation, etc. and, then, corresponding means of search, discovery, recommendation, curation, notification, and subscription. Of course, we want to automate that, so how to do that? Easy, obvious? No. Possible? Yes.So, in media, in effect, for users have another layer on top of present media, a layer that honors the values, artistic tastes, etc. of each person. Then the current “mess” can be an indicator of good news to come, that is, much more variety, both good and bad, and where we will have means to concentrate on the good and filter out the bad. Of course, more details are needed, but we can handle those, too. The President is right about one thing. Humanity is at times horrible. Here an especially succinct answer suffices: Yup. We’re talking miserable Monday here!But, also at times humanity is magnificent. E.g., the best of the art history of, say, Italy, France, Germany, Russia is magnificent beyond belief. E.g., also for the best of science and technology from many of the same times and places. Seeing that horror in your timeline next to something familiar and pleasing is deeply troubling. Yup. Indeed, most of what has been magnificent beyond belief has been not far away in time or place from some of the ugliest situations possible before, and along with, total devastation and just death itself.E.g., there is…which is the Renata Scotto performance of “Un bel di vedremo,” from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly. So, as in the synopsis at…the girl, in Japan, has been deceived by a US Naval officer who regards Madama Butterfly, a pretty, sweet girl of 15, as a worthless toy who then sings of her shame and then kills herself. More translation should be superfluous.So, we have a juxtaposition, really, massive collision, between (A) a pretty, sweet, vulnerable, devoted, desperate girl suddenly in a state of terrible shame in an ancient society with rigid norms and (B) a powerful, arrogant, insensitive, uncaring, self-centered man from a newly rich and powerful society without wise norms.Then, in us, for the poor girl and her terrible plight, strong emotions of caretaking arise. So, these emotions show some of the best of humanity; the collision shows some of the worst. So, just in this one short aria, we have close together both some of the best and some of the worst on the planet — can’t speak for the whole universe, but my guess is the same there, too.As in the movie Pretty Woman, even without knowing the words it’s possible to understand because “the music is very powerful” where there the music was from Verdi’s La Traviata. Since already in the movie from the music of La Traviata the girl was crying, maybe better that the movie didn’t use Madama Butterfly else would risk the girl on the floor, pounding her fists and feet and screaming in terror at the possible agonies of life.As Pavarotti once explained, such opera singing is a form of screaming. I can understand that piece from Madama Butterfly if only because one day I felt much the same: I was alone in a house on a hill in Pawling, NY standing in an interior hallway and screamed out in agony; my scream was loud enough to leave the house, reflect off distant hills, and echo back too clearly. Bad day. Things like that, been known to happen.Yes, for ugly problems, there is a dark solution: Soon after the screaming gets bad enough, it stops.Of course here the Renata Scotto performance is magnificent, a crown jewel of civilization. That is, it is art as in the communication, interpretation of human experience, emotion. Yup, here she does that — no translation needed. And on this planet too often too many in the audience will understand too clearly. Then each member of the audience can go home having learned something a little nice — they are not alone in such agony so that their case of such agony is not unique to them or really just all their fault and the rest of their life might still be okay.A comparable performance by a second Renata, Tebaldi, with some nice video, is at…Yes, with a little reflection on such situations we can have some qualified faith in pure human emotion and passion and look for something, say, rationality, more effective. E.g., yes, caretaking emotions can be wonderful but not always reliable — we do want better for, say, our sister or daughter, indeed, to provide more for our wife and daughters.Yes, in a way, Puccini has been stressful for us, has dragged out and shown us some of our stronger emotions whether we wanted to notice them or not! But some of the art from Italy, … can be much easier to take, e.g., the Carl Maria von Weber (contemporary of Beethoven) Aufforderung zum Tanz, that is Invitation to the Dance, as at…Yup, easier to take!Also easier to take is some more Puccini from his opera ‘Gianni Schicchi’ the aria “O mio babbino caro” by Kiri te Kanawa at…Now this planet begins to sound good!For some more that is easier to take, and a few months early, there is again by Tebaldi, “Mille cherubini in coro” at…Still, inevitably we can’t avoid the forces in Madama Butterfly since they involve caretaking that necessarily Darwin has at the top of his list of priorities.

  25. Mike

    I believe the line should be drawn at privacy, and each media platform’s privacy policies. In the case of nude photos or any other private data hacked illegally from the cloud, the media platforms (whether Twitter, YouTube or Reddit) should reserve the right to take down stolen data. Unfortunately, I don’t think the same holds true for terrorist videos posted on YouTube.It’s my understanding that in the most recent celebrity nude photo “hack”, the data was stolen from the cloud. Security remains the largest inhibitor to cloud storage platforms moving from consumer to more mainstream enterprise applications, and the hack highlights the challenges that Dropbox, Box and other cloud storage platforms (such as Apple’s iCloud) face as adoption grows. Nude selfies are one thing. What about my healthcare data, bank account information, or my company’s R&D pipeline?Terrorist videos on YouTube on the other hand, aren’t violating anyone’s privacy. It’s the consumer’s choice whether he/she will consume negative or horrific media. If not user-generated and consumed directly by the general public, an agency would consume it first, potentially skew it and soften the message and then redistribute it through traditional forms of media such as TV or their own websites.Which would you prefer? I’d prefer quicker access to the information and the choice to participate in spreading the word or simply keep scrolling. But keep my personal data safe.

  26. Sean Hull

    Perhaps opinions of “users” vary a lot more than we realized. Disruption indeed.

  27. Amith ฿. Nirgunarthy

    Dear Fred,I hope all is well. I was really glad to read your post on this topic. Recently something happened to a Northwestern Journalism alumni. My sister went there, so it hit close to home. I posted the message below on facebook and it got some traction, but not enough to make it reality. Technically speaking, I think every video has a unique signature to it (like a thumbprint) and was hoping it could be exploited to stop horrible content from spreading. If installed a certain widget could identify this thumbprint and stop the viewing of it. Anyways, I read your post this morning and figured this was appropriate to share.Best,AmithPosted on Facebook August 20th”One of my friends just saw that video I have been totally avoiding online. I saw the Daniel Pearl video before I knew any better, a decade or so ago. To this day I will never forget it. I am really upset by the fact that little kids are going to be exposed to this on the Internet. I hope parents will hug and hold their children tight and somehow protect them from the pure evil of men who are now using digital marketing to get their message across. I am not asking for any regulations or censorship. Just want to increase awareness. Hopefully some awesome coder will build a Chrome widget to specifically block this video in the browser. It is not that difficult to do and would probably require less than six hours of marathon coding. If you are involved in hackathons or know alums from MIT, any of the IITs or Stanford please share. If this gets done I will donate one Bitcoin in the name of James Foley to an organisation that fights for freedom of the press.I am going to say a prayer for his family now and try to sleep with positive thoughts.”



  29. jstion

    Unfortunately we don’t have a democratically elected, transparent, accountable government,

  30. Fatima

    I would consider these posts from extremists as social media because they are actively engaging on Twitter, in YouTube comments, inviting folks to contact them on Kik, etc etc. If we define social media as either (1) user-generated or (2) mainstream network created media sparking conversation/debate, then unfortunately I think these terrible images and videos are social media. I agree that this type of viral content is virulently anti-social.

  31. Semil Shah

    Semantics here, but I read this as information that’s spread more widely and viscerally *because* of social media channels…there’s the media, the content — and then there’s the channels. Important to keep those separate.

  32. EnduraData

    Just wrote about this topic recently due to an interview overheard on National Public Radio. ISIL is using data to seek and recruit but are also using social media and western PR tactics to invoke action, which is fairly new. It is using various forms of broadcasting to disperse information. It’s a complex system with no easy solutions. Unless…

  33. jason wright

    from censorvision to panoramic weboscope in less than half a generation. it’s the shock of the new, and yet what we now see is not new. it’s old. it’s been going on forever. to delete is to deny reality.

  34. Keenan

    “Social media” is just a big mirror, reflecting back who we are. Just because we break the mirror doesn’t mean we’ll look any better.

  35. Twain Twain

    Editorialism doesn’t lose its value and legitimacy just because we moved to “wisdom of the crowds” and democratization via social media tools.Twitter and YouTube engage in editorialism wrt terrorists hijacking social media for their evil propaganda.The ironic inconsistency of anti-American ideology is why terrorists use US tools and wear US brands when they purport to reject all things American.

  36. Tony@videomarketinggroup

    I agree. It’s not Social at all. They are using the media lines of the world to spread their message. I spend a lot of time on both Facebook and YouTube as I do a lot of marketing via these two platforms. I am subjected to all sorts of things. I am over the heading chopping, beating etc. I know it exists. If I share it then I promote it. And that is what gives these people more power. They only use these communication lines because people spread their message by sharing their posts. If we all just ignored it and didn’t share their pictures and videos they would soon feel the effect of No Attention. Having said that I also would not be against the Untouchables going on a secret mission to exterminate some of those rats.

  37. ShanaC

    Late to the party:I think ISIS and social media gets at notions of “westernism” versus not.It is social media. The value hierarchy is totally different because ISIS doesn’t see these sets of values as part of its frame of reference, or particularly important. social media is a platform problem where cultures play out their values: when different cultures interact, you will see stuff like this happen, particularly where there are radically different non-overlapping frame of references that both groups have relative understandings of. The US has a particularly short memory and particularly bad habit of thinking that other people will understand its/can get people to understand itsAs to some hacker*: Within social groups there are outsiders than have alternative interprentations/ fights with the dominat group. This will happen – it how the community handles it that makes the difference. Because of media culture right now, and how media gets paid, this is going to cause problems.*can we bring back the term cracker for this type of person and leave hacker for positive hacks. I know about the white person thing, but it used to be there was a difference between cracks versus hacks, and hence crackers versus hackers.

  38. halitamalisa

    good article

  39. Pixel pusher Xtreme

    I liked the nude celeb pics. It makes the Internet worth using.

  40. mymeeshell

    I’ve never commented here before but felt compelled by this post in particular because of my reaction to the Ray Rice video coming out yesterday. It really made me think about the cost-benefit of some of these viral videos and posts (Disclaimer- I haven’t thought through how JLaw’s nekkid pics fit into this theory, so don’t hold it against me!)If you redefined the “social” in social media in terms of social justice, these gruesome images and videos often serve a purpose that rally people to get involved in a cause. Can that purpose outweigh the damage done to the people who see them? And maybe even the people who are hurt by posting them? Janae Rice says she was hurt by those videos coming out and no victim of domestic violence should have to see her own trauma on video, but how many victims of domestic violence may be helped by the uproar the video has caused? Would I be as likely to support causes that aim to end modern slavery if they weren’t posting horrible things in my newsfeed? Are we acting faster against atrocities committed abroad because they’re rubbed in our faces? And if so, are there diminishing returns to the action inspired in us each time a gruesome account is posted & shared online? I’m of the belief that the more we know what’s really going on in the world, the more we can do to help, but I worry that at a point we’ll just shut off that empathetic part of our brain due to over exposure to horrible things on the internet.Apologies for the comment full of questions. Fred, I really do enjoy your startup advice as much as I do those on the internet and society!

  41. Ciaran

    “Should Twitter and YouTube be actively taking down this stuff?”If it’s illegal, yes.

    1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Since legality is constrained by political boundaries and the internet is nominally not , this poses a lowest or highest common denominator dilemma. As a consequence you are by corollary either supporting legal absolutism or net sensorshipSadly we suffer these doubts because legality is no proxy for morality. And morality is not universal. The position you take is thus inherently religious (not in a theistic sense) but pertains to your culture and beliefs and is not therefore enforceable nor widely agreeable – so it will fail.

  42. spaincoast - Roberto

    estoy de acuerdo. deberian de cambiar el nombre de social media por insocial media. Para ver cosas sesagradables mejor ir a mi web y ver playas bonitas. os invito de corazón

  43. awaldstein

    Socialization is the platform of our times.Not new…well, yes… new as reach and new as it changes behaviors and culture to a degree.I’m with you. Although I”m with Fred as well on this one.If socialization is the vernacular and people the norm, it’s gonna be as calm as our lives, which is not that calm at all.Do I think that the government has our back?Not really except on the most core level like national security. And I’m happy they do!Do I think Twitter or Facebook or Google care? I think they care more than JP Morgan but not more than than their share price.

  44. Donna Brewington White

    Capitalism plays a critical role in the societal system of checks and balances. If virtue doesn’t motivate, profits will.

  45. William Mougayar

    You have a point on the semantics, Charlie. It is “socialized media”, not positively social, but antisocial in terms of its benefits.

  46. awaldstein

    Life is a wondrous mess.I may approach the mess with some poise but a mess it is nonetheless.I wonder at the order of the crowd, of communities, never that they are out of control.



  48. William Mougayar

    I should have said “effects”.