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The twilight of social media

Dalibor Šumiga Behavioral marketing/Neuromarketing, Marketing

Democracy is one of the biggest problems of society because the vote of a fool is as valid as the vote of a smart person.

The fact that every person on the planet, who has access to the Internet, has the opportunity to have their voice heard, from the beginning seemed to be an extremely positive move forward for humanity. 

On the one hand, this is true. To paraphrase Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google: “Internet is the biggest business equalizer in the world” – everyone, anywhere in the world, got the opportunity to show their knowledge and talent, to present their product to the world. This was previously only possible for big brands.  

On the other hand, the ability for everyone to write whatever they want has brought a flood of fake news, extreme views on both sides of the political and social spectrum, and even the problem of fact-checking – because fact-checkers are also only people with their own views and beliefs. 


Today, hardly any brand doesn’t have a profile on social media, but I remember the beginning when a large number of them decided to ignore social media after seeing the amount of negative comments.
News websites faced the same problem.
The most painless way was to not be active on social media at all.
Today, when most social events are communicated first on social media and only then on TV, it’s not desirable for a brand not to be present online. 

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All social media have the same problem – the algorithm is optimized to encourage communication. The more comments and reactions, the greater chance that one’s post will stand out from the crowd.
People who create content in most cases abuse this flaw of the algorithm, usually by asking questions at the end of each post, just to get more reach.

What the algorithm couldn’t predict is the fact that you will never get a representative sample of society in comments.
An additional problem is that the most common cause of comments on social media is the need to tell someone they are wrong. 

There is no stronger trigger to encourage comments. Try it, write a post in which you will give one wrong piece of information or a fact that has enough proof for both sides of the debate (e.g. who is the best football player of all time). You’ll get comments as you’ve never received before. 

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Yes, you read that right – the best solution to the toxicity of social media is for their owners to turn off comments or reduce their value in the algorithm.
You may be wondering what is the point of social media if there are no comments? 

I’ll answer with a counter question, a hypothetical situation. Imagine this situation – it’s summer, you and your friends are sitting on the terrace and talking. You’re having a discussion about a common topic. The discussion is lively, but you are friends and you respect each other’s opinions. You respect each other regardless of differences.
In the middle of your discussion, your neighbor, who lives next to you alone and is not lucky to have so many friends to spend summer evenings with, suddenly shouts: “You’re the biggest fool in the world!”

What would you do? You would probably ask him to mind his own business. If you’re more impulsive, you might even jump the fence…
On social media, good manners dictate that you say: “Dear neighbor, thank you for Your opinion, which is extremely important to me. Let me give you a few additional facts to show that my arguments are valid…”
Why? You are a private person using a private profile, not a community manager. Why should you be obligated to respond to anyone’s comments? 

The reason why turning off comments would bring about an absolute renaissance of social media in a positive sense is that fools would lose the platform that allows them to be fools in front of a large audience. 

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What happens when you turn off comments?

  1. the person who wants to criticize loses the audience because he can’t address your followers
  2. if the person wants to comment on something, it has to do it through its profile and its audience; if that audience is small, and it is in case of most trolls, it gets a very small reach
  3. when such a person loses the audience, it also loses the will to comment and thus toxic discussions on social media disappear

All people who want to communicate with you because they’re genuinely curious or sincerely want to present their counterarguments can also send you a message in the inbox. That will also be a clear signal that they don’t care about pretending to be smart in front of your followers, but about giving you constructive criticism or their opinion. 

If you wrote something wrong, they always have the option to tag you on their private profile and indicate their correction, without leeching on your audience. If you’re that person sharing fake news, you’ll only be followed by people like you anyway, and a closed community of like-minded people eventually becomes an isolated cult.

Should you block toxic people and trolls from your profiles? If you turn off comments, there’s no need for that.
Remember the words of Axl Rose, the frontman of Guns n’ Roses: 

“If you don’t like me and still watch everything I do  – bitch, you’re a fan….”