I had this conversation the other day at the Political Innovation meet-up on gaming and policy-making. It seems to me that the big issue with Twitter and the law lies precisely in a question of framing. And the framing has been done by agencies quite outside the common populace. So whilst we suffer the consequences of the confusion thus engendered, we really are not to blame for overstepping the multitude of marks.
Twitter, Facebook and all the rest set up their stalls with the idea that the casual throwaway over-the-garden-fence kind of conversation could be replicated online with virtual tools. Most of us thought, when we ventured onto such terrain, that we would have the freedom to extend our local village globally. The rules would remain the same – the right to irreverent, racist, sexist and beyond-the-pale remarks would continue to be a par for the course.
What we didn’t realise at all was that our ephemeral occurrences were actually part of Twitter and Facebook’s business models. There was absolutely no intention for the ephemeral to be treated as such.
We were indeed, long-term, the product not the customer.
These were not – as we had been led to believe – tools the common man and woman would use to exchange peer-to-peer information in the comfort of their privacy settings but, instead, tools the advertisers would use to communicate their latest sales pitches: tools which allowed such advertisers to get to know us so precisely that even our deepest prejudices would be laid bare for them to press the appropriate buttons.
So no wonder we’re getting it all so very wrong – and feeling unhappy as a result. Twitter and Facebook are actually as resilient and permanent as an interrogation and signed interview sheet at your local police station.
Did you realise that when you got onboard the ship of social networks? I’m pretty sure most of us really did not.