• Lucy Bennett-Baggs

Are social networks having a positive impact on your life?

Updated: 2 days ago

The 3am diaries by CEO & Founder, Lucy Bennett-Baggs

For better or worse, social media has undoubtedly been our lifeline through the pandemic. With latest data from a report by TechJury, on average in 2020 we spent 2 hours and 33 minutes per day socialising online, 83% of all internet users were engaged with social media.

Yet, only 24% of those find it has a positive impact on their lives. Yikes. So, what has contributed to this self-perpetuating cycle of addiction?

The info-demic or content-demic?

The last 2 years are now being referred to as an info-demic, meaning increased access to news, information, opinions, people (and bots) but resulting in an overall feeling of despair. With the spread of misinformation exaggerated during the pandemic, in a nationwide study, 47% of Americans were exposed to the news that COVID-19 was “completely made up”. But when you overlay this, with the fact that a great proportion of content found on social media has been strongly linked to an increased risk for depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm, FOMO and even suicidal thoughts. We have to ask why we do this to ourselves, and what the social media giants are doing to safeguard users’ mental wellbeing and in response to this demand for better mental health resources and protections, the social media platforms have now begun implementing features and initiatives over the last few years to protect their users and raise awareness of the issues.

Profit over people?

The day before the October 4th Facebook and Instagram black out, whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared on 60 Minutes and revealed that Facebook is aware that Instagram intensifies both eating disorders and thoughts of suicide amongst its teenage female users, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. Alarming to say the least, social media users and businesses are needing to critically look at the platforms they are on and question whether they really are out for good through their established advertising policies that trample over the promotion of human rights, facilitate bullying and trolling, amplify hate speech and block real news from actually reaching those who need to see it.

But Facebook is not alone in this type of behaviour, as Twitter has also got some work to do. In a recent report, CCDH (Center for Countering Digital Hate) shared that Instagram and Twitter failed to act on 97% of reports of hate and abuse targeted to high profile women such as Mala Yousafzai, Lashana Lynch and Hillary Clinton *sigh*. From 288 misogynist accounts, Twitter removed just 8. Both platforms are breaking their promises to keep women, and women from minority backgrounds safe from hatred on their platforms. We say, times up on that, and it is time to honour their promises.

Keyboard warrior take-over?

This year alone, the headlines have been full of social media policing failures, from the online racial abuse during the world cup, to the Covid-19 researchers and doctors, to the 37% of children, to the 58% of young females and almost anyone for any reason at all. Freedom of thought-to-type is nowhere near policed as closely as it should be and the effects can be catastrophic. This week, Love Island star Kaz Kamwi’s coming out this week to open up about the abuse she faced after her time on the show. The interview referenced a survey where 94k messages were analysed, showing that predominantly women, and especially women of colour, receive abuse based on their sex, physical appearance and race, whereas the men received messages criticising their masculinity and strength. Really?!

However, the four social giants have now pledged to tackle the abuse by focusing on two key areas: people’s ability to control who can reply to, comment on and engage with their posts; and the lack of clear and reliable reporting systems for flagging the online abuse in the first place. About time too.

But what now?

Now more than ever, the cry for good, the cry for connecting with fellow peers and communities that actually want to DO good, is loud, and we’re on our way to answer it! In an article for the Guardian in 2018, Alex Hern famously wrote that:

“If Facebook demonstrates that everyone is boring and Twitter proves that everyone is awful, Instagram makes you worry that everyone is perfect - except you.”

Well, the role of Force for Good in this line up is to show that we can be better humans to each other and the world we live in. Force for Good is a place for righting justices, driving change and together making a fundamentally bigger impact. From fundraising campaigns and challenges, to turning your workout into one that gives back, and connecting with ready-made community groups (Impact Circles); charities and individuals can decide where and how they generate impact, all in one app. If this speaks to your heart too and you’re interested in joining the world's first social impact network alongside thousands of other changemakers, simply pop your email in and be first to be notified when we go live! Together we can be a Force for Good 💪

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