Social media isn’t to blame for everything – the economy

If Mark Zuckerberg blinks his eyes, he probably already sees them on the horizon: the cavalry is approaching from all sides. For years, the EU has been wildly determined to break the power of its social media group, and two far-reaching regulatory packages are almost ready. Even the Americans with whom Zuckerberg has long maneuvered are pissed at him now. And even beyond party divisions, what is saying something in the US.

That the public is going to the dogs on Zuckerberg’s social media platforms seems to be the latest social consensus in the Western world. Meta is metastatic, it’s mischievous, everyone agrees. The company, whose stupid new name is unlikely to get used to it, has evolved over the years into something politicians like: the simple culprit of complex problems.

Several US state attorneys general opened investigations last week. Meta admits that Instagram threatens the mental health of children and “society.” Who wouldn’t want to give a few decent spanks? But the situation is not so clear. The group itself investigated how a photo platform affects the mental health of young people. The result: Many young girls who are uncomfortable with their bodies do even worse if they regularly hang out on Instagram – where they browse photos of fitness girls doing yoga. Surprisingly. But wouldn’t you also see “Germany’s Next Top Model” on TV? Should they also be banned from watching TV?

There is also regulatory populism

Meta is a company that deserves a public beat. The fact that he is keeping these investigations a secret is part of too long a series of decisions in which he neglects his social responsibility. Even today, the group is doing little to stop the spread of lies and hate speech in parts of the world that do not exert political pressure. Calls for genocide are circulating on Facebook. This is outrageous. However, it’s important not to miss the point where your meta criticism turns into a reflex.

Are social media ‘echo chambers’ and ‘filter bubbles’ really to blame for the widely discussed dividing tendencies in society? If so, how many? Social science is not as unanimous on this point as technology columnists. There has always been something tempting about media criticism of politicians and journalists: simply blaming the media in which they are portrayed for scattered events that cannot (or will not) be reached. Demand regulation and then be able to return to work as usual. There is also what could be called regulatory populism.

Meanwhile, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. For some, the future offers promises of unimaginable possibilities, for others visions of suffering and destruction caused by the climate catastrophe. Is it really only social media that is to blame for the fact that society is falling apart and insecurity reigns? This question should be asked much more often, with a greater desire for complicated answers.

The time of the Wild West is over

Perhaps it will be possible when the cavalry finally gets here – it takes long enough. Maybe then there will be a place for it. In any case, the times of the Wild West on social media are finally coming to an end. Mark Zuckerberg has already packed his bags. He’s loaded his company, this enormous magic booth, onto the wagon, he has a new name on it, and now he’s headed west. Data glasses are to replace smartphones, and a three-dimensional virtual world is to be created. If he managed to escape, he would be safe from the cavalry for now. Legislation is likely to lag behind the new digital realities by at least ten years.

However, it can be assumed that the data glasses will again be to blame for the fact that no one believes serious politicians or that young women consider themselves too fat.

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