We’ve been duped for years now but the secret is finally out: social media sucks. And I’m not only talking about Facebook. Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter — they all have their issues. Let’s start with Instagram. It was a platform that started off really hot, eventually being acquired by Facebook for one billion dollars in 2012. To be honest, Instagram is probably my favorite social media platform, but it isn’t without its problems. The platform was going strong until they changed one — seemingly minor — detail: the order. For the longest time, user’s feeds were organized chronologically. Then, in 2016, Instagram gave their feeds over to an algorithm, totally negating the simplicity that made the app so enjoyable to use. The algorithm tries to predict which posts users want to see most, resulting in some photos being missed while insignificant ones reside near the top. It was a classic case of unnecessary innovation and people were not happy.
Snapchat has had similar issues with their recent major update. The app, which used to be easy to navigate, became convoluted when Snap, which owns Snapchat, chose to reorganize. The update prompted a tweet from Kylie Jenner asking, “Does anyone else not open Snapchat anymore? Or is it just me…” Following the tweet, Snapchat actually lost $1.3 billion. Still, the app is just as confusing and has recently received more flak from Rihanna after they posted a controversial ad referring to the domestic violence she experienced at the hands of Chris Brown. The famous pop star called out the social platform and prompted many high-profile celebrities to leave the app.
Now, Twitter does not seem to have any glaring issues, at least when compared to its competitors. However, I feel like the platform has been slowly declining for some time now and is fairly limited in its potential. While I can find nearly all of my peers on Facebook, I rarely meet someone who tweets consistently.
Clearly, all of the major social channels have major flaws. So, I’ve been thinking, what do I actually want in a social media platform? There are obvious needs: privacy and security (*cough* Facebook *cough*). But there are also certain aesthetic and usage issues that are important. First, I think about the primary reasons I use social media: connecting with friends and getting the news. Instagram is great for connecting with friends but isn’t so good with news, plus there’s the whole algorithm issue. Snapchat used to be great for connecting, but that’s kind of ruined now. Twitter is really good for getting news, but not so great for actually connecting. Finally, Facebook does have both capabilities, but their platform has become so convoluted and confusing that it’s nearly impossible to navigate efficiently.
So here’s my pitch: a platform that allows you to follow both your friends and preferred accredited news organizations, but keeps them separate within the app. Do you want to scroll through what your friends are sharing? Click the “Friends” tab and start scrolling. Do you want to see the news? Click the “News” tab and explore. Then, maybe there is a third tab for the “pages” or celebrities you follow. Simple. No algorithms. No bells or whistles. Sometimes I think we’re reaching a point in our technological revolution that the technology that was meant to make our lives easier is only making it all more complicated. Sometimes I think people are nostalgic for simplicity. And maybe that’s what we need in social media: pure and simple.