The Early Years
Does anyone remember MySpace?
It was the first proper social media site of its kind, and ran a strong 5 years before collapse thanks in large part to rival Facebook. MySpace created an environment, where – for the first time, the casual home user could connect with others in their network for work or pleasure. Every teenager hoping for popularity had a profile there, full of glitter, fancy custom work for colors and themes, and more.
The rise of Facebook saw the end of MySpace, and while their profile options are more limited in terms of what they’ll allow a user to change, their networking was better. Facebook became the new place to be if you were anyone, and soon – everyone was there.
Privacy Problems & Data Breaches
Nothing plagues an internet company more than data or privacy breaches. When it happened to Facebook, the public was angry. Governments wanted answers from its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg which were better than the standard answer of it being part of their terms of service. It became too broad a problem, since nearly every other social media platform out there had these terms of service, which were so broadly outlined that it gave permissions and implied consent where there should have been none.
Facebook controls plenty through their site, and have even done experiments on their users without permission, citing the same terms of service, to perform emotional tasks related to the control of their News Feed
. This meant that they could show a user nothing but depressing images for weeks on end, or filter awful news into their Feed just to see if it made the user depressed as a result. This was supposed to have been fine since the user agreed to their terms of service.
Clearly this was not what was intended when the user agreed to those same terms, and the fact that something of this nature occurred and could have caused harm, has raised a few concerns among lawmakers.
Articles 11 & 13 were released, in part, alongside the GDPR to combat these abuses on people’s privacy and data by large companies. It is meant to protect the public, while allowing businesses with ethical procedures to do business as they always have, without any impact at all. The ones who are affected, are the ones who should have been curtailed to begin with, as unfair marketing and media practices has hurt the entire industry.
Many of the regular users of Facebook moved to Instagram and Pinterest, which are favored by the younger generation. These more mobile social apps give their users a lot of freedom to be on the move, constantly seeking something new, or doing something new, and are right there for every moment. Their moments become instantly sharable, and it works for their lifestyle.
The older generations are also beginning to see the appeal of an easy to use platform which is largely visual, and doesn’t require much time investment from them to peruse. Facebook came about in a time where text was the biggest form of speech used online. Now, there are options out there which fit every type of lifestyle a person can have.
Google Wins at AI
Google is a champion at AI, and have made huge strides in machine learning. They’ve developed their Deep Dream technology
which produces computer ‘dream’ imagery, or an image the computer distorts on its own determination, and have also trained their AI to get rid of internet trolls, hate speech, and other sources of malcontent.
Giants like Google and Tesla are paving the way for others in the tech industry to stand tall in the AI world, which seems to be the way things are headed.
Employees as Influencers
Something else new to the scene, are companies which offer better ‘perks’ than just health insurance, retirement, time off or other typical benefits. These companies show they value their employees by giving back to them in ways that both matter, and show. These happy employees feel valued, and will sing the praises of their company to others.
Things were not always so. People have long been crammed into tight quarters, given impossible deadlines, and too much work, forced into a 1980s style of work that some have never let go of. It worked once upon a time, and nobody wants to devote the labor and time into changing what isn’t broken. This creates unhappy, unmotivated and undervalued employees, who will complain about their workplace rather than sing its praises.
Something else new, is the transparency people expect from a company; not just the company they work for but who they do business with. As soon as businesses put themselves online and were expected to be answerable there via social media, people began having higher expectations. When everything is out there, and online – and the ability to share it is so easily done, it becomes all to easy to sink a giant ship of a company. Bad PR has happened to a lot of brands out there, and the public can be merciless. Ethical companies have nothing to hide, so transparency doesn’t wound them or slow business in any way.
There is plenty of discussion about AI and automation being the way of the future, but there is also plenty of data out there to show that people don’t want a canned message, or a cold response. They don’t want to chat with a robot, and want their solution to be easy rather than having to be gated every step of the way. These are things which are running people off from some large companies who automate everything. When a person can no longer get a human being on the phone, there is a problem.
While automating everything sounds like a great idea, and frees up x number of billable hours, it means nothing when the client base flees to a company who still shows heart. It’s more about handling the balance of what to automate, and what to keep in-house and done by a person. It might save money instantly to automate it all, but it costs far more in the long run.