The Guardian reports today that:
A former Facebook executive has said he feels “tremendous guilt” over his work on “tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works”, joining a growing chorus of critics of the social media giant.
I have to say I think this overstated.
I know I am biased. This is my 14,634th blog post in 11.5 years. And yes, I do have 46,000 Twitter followers. And a fair number of Facebook 'friends'. So I confess I have used social media extensively, and I think positively. I would be as blunt as to say that without social media the whole tax justice movement would not have happened in the way it did.
And I do see the impact on young people. My sons live, like so many do, by their phones and are near constantly engaged with them. But would I have done the same if I was their age? Yes, of course I would.
So is social media ripping society apart or changing the way it works? I think the latter. And for every fake news story I say there's always been fake news, and as importantly suppression of news, which is harder now. And for every abuse (and they clearly happen) I'd say there's also been silence that's permitted that abuse in the past.
I am not saying everything about social media is good because it is not. It does permit abuse, bullying, harassment, and more. But they exist anyway and I think that social media has increased awareness of those issues. So on balance I think social media is a force for good. So much so that please don't ask me to do without it: I really don't like the idea.