What is happening with social media?

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Does anyone need their air ducts cleaned? Seriously, anyone? Homeowners in our local area are exceedingly lucky in that we have somewhere in the neighborhood of 300-400 high quality local businesses dedicated solely to air duct cleaning. Wow! I jest of course. One of the many flaws of social media is that it is a free and easy platform for scammers to use, and nearly all of the local social media groups have been seeing fake posts regarding air duct cleaning services lately. By my own estimate, I would say there is an average of at least one post per day per group, and those are only the ones that are not quashed by group admins before publication. Yikes!

I am not going to pretend that I am not a social media user. I have a Facebook account as do most people, but I am by no means a social media addict, and I do have many qualms about the state of things online. Besides the obvious issues with social media toxicity (An environment where everyone can be anonymously nasty while hiding away at home? What could go wrong!), the quality of the online environment has been declining recently in my opinion. What used to be a space to catch up on world happenings in “raw” format has been plagued with videos and photos that are so painfully fake, that they are embarrassing to watch. It is no surprise that people are taking advantage of the financial benefits of so-called “viral” content, but at what cost when a significant portion of the content is fake and untrustworthy?

META, which is the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, has recently made headlines for laying off employees. META is not the only tech company axing jobs recently – Microsoft, Netflix and others have been doing the same. While I’m sure there are countless valid financial reasons for these job cuts, including a looming recession, I can’t help but wonder if people are simply starting to notice the significant recent decline in online content quality. Social media sites such as Facebook are financially powered by advertising revenue. When fewer people watch videos (and thus ads) out of a recognition that the content is low quality or fake, revenue will naturally go down. It would appear that fake news and fake content both have significant financial downsides in addition to the obvious harm that comes from the spread of false information. 

For the sake of protecting locals from one of the more prominent scams, I feel the need to share some tips. Taking the air duct cleaning scam as an example, there are some common sense signs that you can look for when deciding if a post such as this is real or fake. First, if you recognize text that is more or less a perfect match to wording you have seen in a previous post about air duct cleaning (or whatever service is being offered), there is a good chance it is a scam – our community is hardly big enough to sustain dozens of air duct cleaning businesses! Second, if you are unsure about the wording of a post, check out the profile of the user who posted it. If the profile was created recently, has little to no friends, or just joined the social media group a few days ago, there is a good chance that the profile is fake and the post is a scam. Finally, if you are truly interested in a service which you suspect is being offered by a legitimate business, proceed with caution and use common sense. Never send or give money before a good or service is rendered to your satisfaction, and never do business solely online. If something is too good to be true, it probably is!

 

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