Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Conundrum of Social Media

I should probably stay out of Turkey in the foreseeable future. The president-cum-dictator Erdogan has a penchant for throwing people in jail for making derogatory statements about him, and I'm certain I've posted prison-worthy comments on Facebook about what an arse he seems to be. Credit to the mayor of Geneva, Switzerland for not kowtowing to Turkish pressure to remove a poster about a young boy killed by Erdogan's storm troopers. Shame on Germany's Merkel and other European leaders for sucking up to Turkish demands and even giving them billions of blackmail euros over the refugee crisis.

I should probably avoid Saudi Arabia as well, as I have glibly commented about their barbaric practice of beheading dissidents.

Social media has become a bit of a minefield. Posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. are being hoovered up by the NSA and GCHQ to interpret whether you are a terrorist, probably by the IRS etc. to calculate whether you are an oversees account-holding tax cheat, and by prospective employers to ascertain whether you might embarrass them as a future employee.

Even Facebook is in the information control game, choosing via its algorithms which messages you see from friends ... and especially from disguised advertisers. There have been suspicions that FB has been manipulating political posts to skew the US presidential election.

All of which leads to self-censorship. A recently released study showed a significant drop in searches for terms which could be interpreted as showing terrorist interest - terms such as jihadist and ISIS. (Damn, I just triggered the NSA's dongle-bell.)

I self-censor potential posts, we all do. Aware that my grandchildren may read my FB page, I am circumspect in the photos and language I use. On Twitter, which I use primarily for business, I am careful not to offend clients. And I have learned never to post to social media contacts with large followings (such as Robert Reich) - it only results in a rash of flaming, vile responses from total strangers who disagree with my viewpoint.

Social media has its benefits. It's a good way to keep up with distant friends and relatives, and to show them what we have been doing (and eating, eh Larry?). To a certain extent, you can keep up with the news of the world without having to go to a news website or turn on the television.

And then, of course, there are cat photos.

No comments:

Post a Comment