The Fall of Facebook and the Return to a Decentralized Internet

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@david-markDavid Mark

Using Resilient Systems for Sustainable Farming and Land Restoration

I am not predicting Facebook’s demise, but with my eyes wide open there are only so many lives one social media platform has. Of course, Facebook’s crash will not be sudden, but the events we are witnessing, will be seen as part of the critical components of the disintegration of the world’s largest social media platform.

For those of us who remember a world before Facebook lets try to remember a time before we spent countless hours flipping through our newsfeeds, responding to posts from our friends in the hope of creating some sort of digital bond. This bond called a “like” was of course envisioned from the beginning by Facebook’s founders as a sort of addictive action that kept people on the platform and growing the platform’s global user base.

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

Sean Parker, one of the founders admitted to all of this in the following statement to Axios: “The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?’ And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that’s going to get you to contribute more content, and that’s going to get you … more likes and comments. It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology. The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”

We have all become so addicted to validation, digital attention, and faux online relationships that life without all of this is hard to imagine, but we did live before and in many ways our online behaviors were far more balanced than they are now. They were meaningful and produced value.

Let’s imagine what the Internet will be like with no newsfeeds and likes. It will most likely return to far more decentralized group of information based portals and community hubs. True, people will still fall into addictive online behaviors, but one platform will not control how these behaviors are manipulated and exploited. Most Facebook (and Instagram) users don’t know that the ads and posts they see are curated using AI in order to elicit responses and decisions that cause people to stay on Facebook and Instagram longer.

Remember, Facebook and many of its spinoff companies like Instagram actually turned the Internet into something it was never intended for and that is one giant centralized and controlled platform.

When all of this is gone, the Internet will once again be decentralized and yet interconnected. In a very eerie sense, this movement towards Internet decentralization will remove a sort of digital veil from upon us. With our decisions and minds returned to us, what will choose to do? In a sense, we may actually use the Internet for something more than just likes, shares, and senseless comments in the hope that we feel more appreciated.

Perhaps we will simply use the Internet as a tool to enhance real life activities like direct communication, retail, financial services, education, and research, leaving socializing to the real world.

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