What is the social cost of a Like?

I wrote about Social Media before, but this post is about traditional online newspapers and how they are following the same footprints, using new techniques such as click baits and trying to “go viral”  in a bid to gain visibility or simply survive.

One meaningful example form the Guardian: Subsidised tenants are excluded from pool and gym in London block .

A bit of background here: in UK, at least 30% of the newly built apartments should by law be under the “social housing” scheme, with lower rent prices subsidised by tax payers.

Whatever is your take on the matter, this article will likely leave you angered at either:

a) the people who wants to use the subsidised pool and gym by bundling it with the social housing scheme and exploiting the system, or

b) the people who are supporting segregation and even a form of social cleansing, as proposed in the article.

This is the divide et impera at work again! Not because someone is conspiring in that direction: our Digital Media are simply tuned to rank something better if it causes a reaction, likes, shares, engagement!

The reader who decides to analize more in depth and get over the first reaction, will find that the journalist here gathered the opinions of 4 people in favour of the right to use the facilities (including a deputy mayor) and a whopping 0 people against it.

I would be ready to bet you that whichever stance you took at first by reading my short description of the events, it is now slightly mitigated, and the following bit of information will put things further in prospective: out of nearly 3500 apartments, the article suggest 17% were subsidised housing, i.e: 595 apartments. The article also calculates that “Up to about 500 residents are affected”, however I suspect 1500 is a more likely number at 2.47 people per apartment being average in London. The article portrayed no picture of protests in one way or another.
…maybe neither of the two groups felt that strong about this…

To be clear, this is a great article: the journalist made some in depth research looking for numbers and statistics and law details, and even went through the effort of going onsite and meet residents.
This is not a cheap example of tabloidisation or bad journalism at all, and yet in order to “sell” it, the Guardian -a respected newspaper with 2 centuries of history- had to work with the current model:  sensationalise the title (click-baiting) and choose divisive wording or quotes like “social cleansing” (generate more engagement).

Media are the “fourth estate” and are bowing before the power of Likeocracy, but they are not alone: from US president Trump, to most prime ministers and heads of state in Europe, virtually every politician in the western society is now communicating through a twitter account, implicitly abiding to its unwritten rules: stronger stances generate more engagement, reaching a wider audience and gaining more likes.

We need to find a strategy to steer Likeocracy away from its current route towards a Democracy 2.0: we must use our most advanced technology to our own gain.
Through history we proved very proficient at that, this is but another opportunity.

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