What social media can learn from public spaces
Against the backdrop of all that has been going on in the world lately, we could see that removing a person from the media space and depriving them of the opportunity to express their opinions and post information is a crude but effective version of punishment. If social media is used as a call to violence or incitement, account removal is now considered commonplace. But we can't build a healthy community if we just delete unwanted users.
Today we want to talk about how to create a better media space. Perhaps this article will be read by someone who works on these platforms, or expects to work in the future. Or perhaps you want to create your own? In any case, this article will also be interesting for ordinary users, to form a general idea of what we demand and want to see from social networks.
Civic Signals, a non-profit organization, has spent the last two years doing research on what influences the creation of a good digital space.
The research began with the idea that outside of the internet, all healthy communities need comfortable public spaces: libraries, plazas, parks, etc. If we take social media, such spaces would belong to corporations, but offline they belong to people.
Researchers believe that among public spaces we can identify a number of certain qualities that help to create a healthy society. Thousands of years of experience in creating spaces for public life can also help in shaping such places on the Internet.
Here's some of these qualities:
Develop more social activities that can engage and unite different groups of people, without focusing on any one group.
- Try to tell users what behavior is acceptable
- Your event programs should be accessible and appealing to the entire population, regardless of their social status.
- Involve more opinion leaders in the space who will do the work of building groups themselves
- Consult with users when designing
Probably everything except the third point is not really specific to the social networks we use. Large groups of people who don't know how to behave get lost in this space and this often has negative informational consequences.
Social networks often cannot give their users much space to express their creativity. Basically, it's all about offering to share videos and leave comments. TikTok recently had a story where a company of young people spontaneously raised $1.9 million to write a musical based on the cartoon "Ratatouille." It really is one of the few stories that inspires and shows us the power of social media. Stories like this should happen more often, encouraging people to be creative, to create content.
I attended a virtual briefing by Civic Signals to learn about the results of the company's investigation. The team identified 14 principles for creating perfect digital spaces. The principles are divided into four groups:
- Communicating with new users
- Helping people connect with the world
- Connecting people with common interests
- Enabling people to work together
These principles are really good because they build on human nature. Facebook claims to enable people to create a group and work to bring the world together, just as Twitter tells us it builds social dialogue. In fact, we are increasingly noticing that these social networks are not doing a very good job of their message.
Civic Signals also surveyed a large number of people from all platforms around the world about how well current social networks meet the highlighted qualities. The results were mixed, but some common traits can be identified. Facebook and Twitter ranked high for building social groups and opportunities to be involved in something common, but low for showing reliable information.
Civic Signals concluded that building better digital spaces is possible and necessary. The main thing is, can we build the identified qualities into existing projects, or will we have to create a new project from scratch? What will this new project be? A giant corporation, a public state space, or can it be created by a non-profit organization?
Either way, we are waiting for the experiment
None of the existing platforms are perfect and have not shown the qualities that people need today. We all want to see at least a basic level. Protecting security in the information space, protecting your data, working on the reliability of information. At a minimum, we want to feel welcome on the platform. Combining all of this, we realize that there is still a huge field for innovation in this area.
Was this article helpful?7 Posted by: 👨 Mildred M. Hoyle