Is social media’s bad reputation retrievable?
Sophie Scott, global managing director of FleishmanHillard’s tech practice, says YES.
While technology has improved our lives in many wonderful ways, significant scandals and perennial privacy issues have deeply tarnished social media companies’ reputations.
But has trust been lost forever? Absolutely not. Despite the criticism, stats don’t lie, and sign-ups and ongoing use have continued apace. Social media is an aspect of people’s daily lives that is here to stay.
That said, rebuilding trust must be an absolute priority. This means addressing the problem’s root cause: users don’t believe that social media companies are working in their interests. Our research shows that 75 per cent of Brits want more action regarding these companies’ impact on society. They want to redefine their relationship with social media, not end it.
The best remedy will be for social media companies to work with the government, regulators, academia, and each other, and to behave in ethical, socially responsible ways. To rebuild their reputations, they must do not only the most profitable thing, but the right thing, for all stakeholders.
Peter Murray, director of corporate affairs at Cicero Group, says NO.
If you fancy a career change, consider becoming a therapist. It will be a boom industry when our kids reach adulthood; a generation that measures self-worth in “likes” and shares intimate photos with each other in the belief that they will simply disappear.
A growing number of Silicon Valley titans are now distancing themselves from the Frankenstein they’ve created. Many have started to talk publicly about the harm that their social media creations could be having on young people, while whipping smartphones out of their own kids’ hands faster than if they were lit cigarettes.
Last week, the charity Barnardo’s published a report revealing that children as young as two were accessing social media. The report also noted that 78 per cent of vulnerable 11-to-15-year-olds had been exposed to harmful content, including cyber bullying, grooming, and the sharing of “personal content”.
The industry is getting its defensive lines in early and governments are waking up to the threat at grinding speed. But as more young people emerge from behind their screens into society, prepare for the sector’s reputation to go from bad to worse.