The Evolving Landscape of Social Media: Embracing innovations while facing challenges
The Rise of Virtual Reality
Virtual reality is another technology that is poised to transform the future of social media. It allows users to enter a fully immersive digital environment where they can interact with other users and experience new forms of entertainment. Social media platforms like Facebook and Snapchat have already begun to incorporate virtual reality into their offerings, with Facebook launching its Oculus VR headset and Snapchat incorporating augmented reality into its platform.
In the future, virtual reality could become a more integral part of social media, allowing users to connect with others in a more meaningful way.
Snapchat's New Offering
Snapchat, which has 750 million monthly active users worldwide, is in the midst of one of the biggest strategic shifts in its history. It is now offering a new service called AR Enterprise Services or ARES. The first product, called Shopping Suite, will help retailers create 2D and 3D representations of their merchandise, store the digital assets, and enable AR on their own websites. Shopping Suite will first roll out to fashion and clothing companies, followed later by home and beauty.
Snapchat's AR Shopping Lenses, which have been used over 5 billion times by more than 250 million people since January 2021, could gain even more notoriety in the years to come.
However, social media platforms are constantly under scrutiny due to concerns about data privacy, election interference, fake news, and harmful content.
TikTok: The Battle Continues
One of the most discussed topics in social media regulation is the ongoing debate surrounding TikTok. The short video app owned by China-based company ByteDance, has faced growing calls for a ban in the US. Devices owned by the US government were recently banned from having the app installed, and Congress has been approached to discuss the matter. The legal fight to prevent the app from being banned or punished is likely to play out in the US legal system.
ByteDance is backed by some of the world's biggest financiers, and TikTok alone generated an estimated $10 billion in revenue in 2022. While some see TikTok as merely a place to watch goofy teens dance and lip-sync to pop music, others worry that it could be a portal through which Beijing might influence the lives of 150 million-plus users. The primary accusation against TikTok is that because it is owned by a Chinese company, which must comply with requests from the Chinese government, it cannot be trusted with Americans' personal data.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew has been appearing before lawmakers to answer questions about the app's connection to the Chinese government and how it collects and handles American user data. TikTok's proposed solution, Project Texas, is the company's plan to store US data in the US by a US team, but this argument appears to have fallen on deaf ears in Washington. TikTok denies these allegations and says that the Chinese government has no access to US user data.
The Impact on Businesses
TikTok has revolutionized social media, transforming the business landscape in the process. It has enabled companies of all sizes to elevate their brand awareness, reach out to new audiences, and generate sales. TikTok's distinctive short-form video format has emerged as a potent marketing tool, with its algorithm ensuring that the right content reaches the right users. Nevertheless, the looming possibility of a TikTok ban has small business owners and emerging creators on edge, given the potential impact on their operations. For many, TikTok has been instrumental in building a brand and cultivating a loyal following, and losing that would be a hard blow. Finding alternative platforms with a similar level of reach and engagement could be a challenge, leaving many small businesses struggling to keep pace with more established brands.
Decentralized Social Media
Decentralized social media is a rising trend in response to growing concerns about data privacy and censorship. Platforms employing blockchain technology allow for greater privacy, security, and censorship resistance. They operate through a peer-to-peer network, without a central authority controlling the platform. Instead, users have control over their own data, and they can choose who can access it and how it is shared. One example of a decentralized social media platform is Mastodon, a decentralized microblogging system that is built on open-source software. It is similar to Twitter, but prioritizes privacy and security and it has gained popularity in recent years, with users appreciating its decentralized model and commitment to privacy. Peepeth is another platform that operates on a decentralized social network based on the Ethereum blockchain, it prioritizes ethical behavior and positive interactions. Peepeth uses a cryptocurrency called "Peep" to encourage positive behavior on the platform, such as sharing positive content and engaging in constructive interactions with other users.
It is impossible to emphasize how important social media has become in our everyday lives and how it has affected both society and business. Social media offers numerous advantages, but it has also given rise to issues with data privacy, censorship, and the dissemination of false information. It is expected that new legislation and guidelines will be implemented to address these concerns as governments and regulatory agencies continue to examine social media networks. The emergence of new technologies like virtual reality and decentralized social media offers new opportunities for enjoyment and social connection at the same time. It will be interesting to see how these technologies influence social media and how we interact with one another in the future as they develop.