I Miss Myspace

Social media was much simpler when it was all about Myspace.  Think about it.  Myspace was really a great place for posting some fun pics, maybe a couple of songs, and just connecting with people.  Myspace was easy to use, and you always had one friend named “Tom,” even if nobody else was there.  When Myspace went the way of CD-ROMs, it feels like things took a little turn for the worse.

Maybe that’s not fair.  When “The Facebook” started, it was a Myspace for schools.  Once it opened up, so did the floodgates.  When the Facebook feed became a news feed that featured “real” news, it went completely sideways.  It wasn’t Facebook by itself.  It was the decisions made for how we handled that social feed, transforming it into a news feed. 

That was when Facebook became a massive media platform where any individual could position themselves as a fully reliable news outlet and broadcast their opinions as fact to anyone with a similar mindset.  It opened up a door into the seedy underbelly of opinion and angry rhetoric, easily clothed in a nice suit, or a T-shirt, or any other innocuous-looking delivery that made it feel like a real news story.   The vocal minority finally had a place to broadcast themselves.  When facts are confused with opinions, something is not right.



But how do we fix it?

Internet regulation is on the way.  A little regulation is a good thing.  I already regulate my kids’ access to the internet, so why not let the government regulate some of what is posted to the Internet? 

I’m not approving censorship, but I am comfortable with labels.  I grew up with labels.  When I was a kid, they slapped “explicit lyrics” labels on the music I purchased.  I still listened to it, but both my parents and I knew what to expect. 

Websites could have the same labels or grades that could alert the visitor about the accuracy of the content, whether the site is a verifiable source of fact or opinion, or just plain fantasy. 

Twitter does some of this already, and the world is still spinning.  Facebook has done it a couple of times.   What’s wrong with all content being marked in some way?  As a parent, I know there are sites like Common Sense Media that provide grades for movies and books to help us understand what our kids could and should (or should not) see. 

Websites have been fully free and unregulated since their inception, but it also took a little knowledge and brainpower to get your content out there.  These days it is as easy to create content and publish it online as it is to make your breakfast in the morning.  It’s plug-and-play publishing, even easier than it was to create the aforementioned Myspace pages. 

Once again, I am not saying censorship.  I am not in favor of throttling access.  I also grew up on public access TV and while not exactly quality programming, it was there, and you could watch it if you so choose to do so.  I just knew that the content quality would be poor.  Provide access, but label it so users know what to expect.

Regulation on social media is what’s most important.  Social media feels like an experiment that went wrong.  We may have taken it too far.  A label here or there, or a grade or score or some kind of centralized POV that helps visitors understand what they’re going to see would, I guess, be acceptable to most people. 

What are your feelings on internet regulation?  Are you OK with it, or should we just unplug the internet, let it reboot and just relaunch a scaled-back Myspace again?  Tom, where are you when we need you to be our friend again?

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