- Companies have become more conscious about their image as social media activism turns narcissist and become hate spreaders
- Social media companies make most of their money from advertising that they put on their platforms
- Coca-Cola, Diageo, and Unilever are a few among those who have decided to reduce their social media advertising spending
The usage of social media platforms in the spread of false information, hate, and political mudslinging is a menace that has reached a great height in recent times. What makes the situation even worse is that it is very difficult to fix accountability on anyone for such actions. Generally, the perpetrator is an individual based out of some remote location, having thousands of followers who are also located at some distant place and who help spread these assertions worldwide. The onus thus to stop the spread of these socially harmful messaging is to fix the responsibility on the platforms that give the opportunity to these people to spread such nuisance. In this regard, many of the large corporations in the world have now come out and decided not to advertise or spend money on these social media platforms which are not taking any responsibility for the spread of such harmful content and are instead profiting from it.
Companies advertise to build their image among the general public so that it may give a boost to their revenues. But when one advertises on a platform that is increasingly being known for its negative image one will certainly desist from such advertisement. Over the years social media companies like, Facebook and Twitter have turned a blind eye on the content that goes on their digital platforms with the belief that they only result in bringing in more users and content to them. The negative content on such platforms have in recent times attained such humungous proportions that it is has resulted in major backlash for these digital platforms. Such backlash, which till now was restricted to activists, has now started to include big corporations that spend millions on advertising on such platforms. These companies, which have now become more conscious about losing their image by associating themselves with entities which are constantly attaining negative reputation, have now threatened to cut business ties if these platforms do not mend their ways.
Corporations up for the task
Major global beverage brand Starbucks has made an announcement that it will suspend its advertising spending on social media platforms because of the increasing negative content. While other major global corporations like Coca-Cola, Diageo and Unilever have already announced that they have removed their advertisement from these platforms. A statement made by Starbucks after making the announcement stated that the company believes in bringing communities together both in-person and online, referring indirectly to the negative content being circulated by social media portals.
Coca-Cola while announcing that it will be pausing advertising on all social media platforms globally, called for greater accountability for these platforms while on the other hand, Unilever announced that it would halt advertising in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at least through 2020. It is worth noting here that Unilever had to change the name of its popular face cream brand " fair and Lovely" because of the backlash it faced over its racist undertone.
Social media platforms and the shift in their use
Social media platforms when they were formed were meant for people to keep in touch with each other over digital platforms when it was not possible to meet in person. However, over a period of time, these platforms have evolved and are being increasingly used for character assassination, political mudslinging, spreading racial hatred, making hate speeches, and spreading plain lies. The original purpose of these platforms of connecting people now seems to have been cast behind all this negativity in dusky oblivion. Social media is now increasingly becoming a monster that feeds on a lot of the social evils that we, as a society, have always tried so hard to contain. While the people who are responsible for upkeeping these digital platforms are aware of the dangers of the evil that are being spread through them, the motive of making more and more profit has stopped them from doing something concrete to stop the menace. Facebook has often been accused of doing too little, too late whenever such allegations are bought against it, and then to the measures stay for a few months before the situation festers back to where it was.
The method now being adopted by these large corporate houses to impress upon these social media companies that they will now have to take decisive measures to mend their ways could have its intended impact. Social media companies make most of their money from advertising that they put on their platforms. These advertising which is targeted towards individuals who frequent these web portals to keep themselves well-informed of their families and loved ones, are now being seen by people who visit these websites for a different purpose altogether. The marginal utility thus on sums spent on these web portals have come down drastically and even become negative in many cases.
In recent times there has been a string of lawsuits that have been instituted against individuals posting offensive content on these platforms in different countries. These lawsuits have not only severely damaged the reputation of the social media platforms but have also affected the reputation of companies who advertise on such platforms. Moreover, political mudslinging across countries also affects the fortunes of companies who have their businesses spread across both the warring countries. Thus this irresponsible behaviour by the social media companies has reached a stage where it has started to hurt the interest of all parties associated.
An urgent reform is needed in the way social media functions around the world. Though independence of a media platform is of paramount importance, that also gives rise to the possibility of it causing considerable social damage. Transformation of social media is thus long overdue and innovative ways have to be urgently devised to effected positive changes in it.
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