If a major bank with 100 million customers erroneously overcharges each customer $1, they stand to make ONE HUNDRED MILLION DOLLARS based on the error... In our reality, this happens in many ways within the banking industry, it's not unusual for banks to erroneously charge their customer base even more, and when regulators catch up with the issue, reimbursing affected customers often results in only a fraction of that oversight back to customers, and most of it often ends up paying lawyers who negotiate class-action settlements before customers even see a dime of their hard earned money back.
This is our world, we've been tolerating it because $1 doesn't really appear to hurt most of us as we bleed a lot more of our money into mandatory insurance and other costs of living which only increase as time passes. We're working online and worrying harder about why things aren't working for us more than ever now, many of us engage in social media to lighten our mood, but many of us put a lot of work into social media to build a future of independence through promoting our work and brands and in creating a business for ourselves. The problem with investing in social media is that the benefits of investing a lot of time (into it) are rapidly decreasing in value. Similar to playing a video game, you buy a gaming console or computer, pay a lot for the video game, and then find out that there are recurring expenses in the process of keeping up to date... This dramatically decreases the value of experiences over time, and more often than not does not recover the initial investment at all. Fair enough, a video game is not usually the same as running a business, but I recall a time where you bought a game console and games that just worked (provided that you blew dust off of the cartridge before inserting it) without having to pay more money or sign up for an online account just to continue playing it (and as long as the console didn't break).
With the interest of brevity, I'll now tie the prior analogy together as best as I can...
The way that banks "accidentally" overcharge customers is big business now that banks have huge volumes of customers... The same can be said for huge social media companies like Facebook (Meta), Twitter, and TikTok. By adjusting one simple aspect of how information is displayed, they can spur action from site users to generate them massive amounts of profit, because most of what they operate is code, which also cannot be observed and evaluated by others outside of the company without access to how the company's code works.
For example, there's a metric that Spotify displays on every artist's page, the (monthly listeners) statistic. This statistic drives a lot of musicians to do crazy things... They arrange for publicity stunts, upload wild videos to TikTok (sometimes even sexually suggestive things), and some artists even engage in very harmful behaviors for clout to promote their music online to get statistics like this higher. The number is displayed prominently on Spotify so that many artists are embarrassed by them, in order to spur them to advertise their music... This number is low for new and undiscovered musicians, and for musicians like me that pay little attention to the site, but it serves as a constant (and incorrect) beacon online that an artist is popular or irrelevant, and artists can't get rid of it unless they decide to remove their music altogether form the platform, leaving way for impersonators as well. It's just one of the ways in which sites online manipulate independent creators into critical dependency in adopting and investing in them. The financial hook is that in order to get that number to go up on Spotify, an artist often needs to pay for advertising, or enlist another service (paid of course) just to gain monthly listeners. That statistic falls off over time if it isn't constantly maintained and promoted as well, granting many to a revenue stream that is constant although not stable... A form of rather hostile virtual peer pressure.
Another way that social media manipulates creators with pressure tactics is by carefully controlling who can see their content. They constantly change operation of their sites and apps to encourage engagement with their platforms for everyone as a contributor. This twitter post shows an example of what is occurring on Instagram today (It may change after publication of this article).
https://twitter.com/djwinterman/status/ ... 1gckGYtWvA
When searching for content on Chrome Browser on Instagram, I noticed that no terms were coming up when entered in plain text. Even searching for Beyonce, who had just launched an album today, NO RESULTS were shown. That is insane to someone like me as a web developer with how Instagram requires users to leverage hash tags and captions on every post. At the current point where numerous users are complaining about the lack of visibility on their posts, one small oversight like this can throw the massive amounts of effort that people put into a platform like Instagram right into a dumpster... As Instagram only focuses on new posts and also takes great measure to ensure that contributors don't repeat content on their platform. This is akin to the "minor oversights" that I cited earlier by banks, because Instagram continues to reap all the benefit of their mistakes and misfunction, users work hard to create content while being unseen, they promote Instagram as a platform in hope it benefits them too, Instagram silently pressures many creators in paying for ads to boost visibility on their posts, and Instagram (as a company) and probably lawyers stand to collect tons of money that will likely cover any class action settlements later on.
If a very popular, successful, and well known music artist like Beyonce is not showing on Instagram search, just imagine how grim your individual creator and business prospects are for being visible on the "social" platform moving forward. The costs in time and money are only guaranteed to increase over time as they seek to increase dividends for their investors each year.
We are now in somewhat of a "wild west" movie on the Internet in which social media has a strangle hold on public attention. Social sites have often become both hostile places towards both creators and users, and also places where you can watch wild things like funny animal videos. Perhaps we should back off of business promotion on these social apps, because the investment doesn't quite often recoup itself in returns. Maybe these massive social platforms are best meant to be for sharing funny and personal things, like a tiny chipmunk stuffing nuts in it's cheek, or for watching ads sponsored by big business... however, If we plan on continuing to use social media and to deem it credible for all categories under the sun (including creating business opportunity) we should demand that they provide fair and real access, accountability, support, and consistently functioning visibility for everyone involved. It's the least they can do for the years of insane profit they've made, while independent platform contributors make little to no profit for their work in comparison.
We as consumers and business owners need to make critical decisions on how we spend our time and money every day. Numerous social media sites manipulate us into paying them vast amounts of money and our time and attention while the rewards in visibility for the things that we work on and post shrinks. It's increasingly important for us to evaluate that and discuss incidents like this publicly, so that bad practices do not become further embedded and normalized into Internet culture, which was originally based on community and equal visibility of information and content.
Also, check your bank statements... You may one day be able to get a $35 refund, which can likely be well more than what you get in annual interest on your deposits... ugh.
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