Social Media Managers: Captives and Complicit [Content Made Simple]
Issue #207: Instagram tests removing a loved feature, and social media orgs offloading content moderation.
The toxicity of the social media platforms has been evident for a long time, and continuing to participate in it now feels like a choice we all have to make.
As an industry, we’ve historically had a laundry list of complaints. People think we’re interns. Even when you’re on vacation, you’re not really on vacation. (I once had to answer a work email from a moving bus in the Middle East because someone got locked out of the company Instagram.) Everyone feels like they can do our jobs, because they’re also on Facebook, and really, how hard could it be?
But when we focus on these little indignities, we miss the bigger question. Is continuing to work in social media an ethical choice? Are we tacitly endorsing the inaction of social media companies?
I praise God almost daily that I am no longer on the front lines of social media management. Even in the Christian subspace of the social internet, toxicity flows like rushing rapids of anger and malice. Many times in my career certain messages or comments or the like would just break me. Couple that with the ethical concerns of propping up social media companies and the feeling that anyone thinks they could do your job which is just hanging out on social media all day, right(?), and it makes the job of the social media manager incredibly burdensome. If you are a social media manager, speak up when you need help. If you work with social media managers, check in on them. If you lead them, create systems to give them time off.
ON THE POD
Reddit took over Wall Street last week and wreaked havoc thanks to a few shares of GameStop. We look at that and what it might mean for social media's impact on the economy.
HITTING THE LINKS
This is a column by the New York Times ombudsman, Ben Smith, and it focuses on the place Twitter has in newsrooms, but the implications go further than that. A lot of employees have to have conversations about what is and is not appropriate social media activity with their employers. An interesting wrinkle to the pervasiveness of the social internet.
David Carr, the legendary Timesman who made this column a destination, told me back in 2012 that he kept a “helicopter on the roof” of The New York Times Building in case he needed to escape. After all, he had been taking shots at media moguls, including, occasionally, his own bosses. That helicopter, he said, was his Twitter account, and it gave him the power, if needed, to flee The Times and take his followers — more than 300,000 when he died in 2015.
Twitter has occupied an uncomfortable place between journalists and their bosses for more than a decade. It offers journalists both a newswire and a direct line back into the news cycle. But it has also set off a tug of war between the voice of the brand and of the individual.
Lots of discussion recently about the pros and cons of major social media platforms giving content moderation responsibilities to pseudo-third-parties. Helpful thoughts here.
Wikipedia, for all its warts, has been held up recently as an example of how a user-generated content site can self-moderate effectively. The CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation, Katherine Maher, made that case herself recently in a Fast Company op-ed headlined, “In a fragmented reality, Wikipedia isn’t just a refuge. It’s a roadmap.” Maher makes a compelling case for the factors that have made Wikipedia a relatively trusted information source. She points to decentralized problem-solving, institutionalized discourse, inclusion, and the fostering of healthy dissent as keys to its success.
I saw lots of folks upset about this last week, but Instagram assures users, “This is just a test.” For now, anyway.
Instagram can’t block TikTok reshares within Reels, as it's doing here with feed posts. But you can bet that, if it were able, it would, in an effort to establish more original content in each section of the app.
Which is the impetus for this change - to prompt users to create content specifically dedicated to each stream.
More specific content equals a better user experience - but how much, if this change is rolled out more broadly, will this impact overall Stories sharing?
THE FUNNY PART
If you like this, you should subscribe to my free newsletter of funny content I find online. It’s called The Funnies. It delivers on Saturday mornings.
You can subscribe to The Funnies here. (It is and will always be free.)