The social media conundrum: a commentary

From J D Faccinetti, Chief editor and co-founder – The problem with social media is that it feels like a puzzle; disjointed, confusing, and above all, ineffective. In addition, constant changes in how they operate make it difficult to understand how to use them effectively to spread helpful information. Chief among these concerns is ensuring that the critical news and information we publish reach our intended audience.

To give you a perspective of how these changes evolved when we started publishing PWN in 2014, we relied heavily on social media. Our feeds, principally driven by Facebook – now Meta – could quickly achieve tens of thousands of “hits” on each post. (A hit is the number of times a given post gets a click). Today, thanks to how these companies have changed their algorithms, we typically count these “hits” in the hundreds. Not surprisingly, the PWN audience is growing steadily despite the decrease in social media platforms’ share.

According to a recent article in the leading trade publication Social Media Today, additional significant changes are coming to the Facebook feed. While I’m far from an expert, what’s coming looks confusing and complicated and, I’m afraid, will further restrict content from publications like ours. I’ve included a link to this article here.  If you can make any sense of it, please let me know.

What we know is that what started as platforms for social networking where you could connect with people you knew to exchange ideas, make suggestions, and provide helpful information, have become primarily open platforms where third-party players and algorithms based loosely on what they think you like, or are interested in, carefully manipulate what you see, which can be woefully inaccurate and intrusive. Other troubling issues are disseminating misinformation (misleading or non-factual information) and how these actions make them unsafe and possibly dangerous. We can only surmise that uncontrolled growth, fueled by outrageous profits, has resulted in these companies’ inability to understand what they are genuinely doing.

As we mentioned at the outset of this article, we’ve tried to understand the conundrum in which we find ourselves with social media, the puzzling direction these platforms are taking, and the negative effect they have on organizations like PWN. Honestly, we are not interested in fixing or saving them from their implosions. As long as we can reach people, we will continue to post all our content on our social media channels regardless of their limitations. It is, however, critical to realize that even though you may be following PWN, you may not be getting all our articles and podcasts in your feed.

We are not suggesting that these platforms not monetize their products; far from it. Still, we recommend they be clear about their purpose and objectives AND PROVIDE NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS PWN THE OPPORTUNITY TO REACH THE WIDEST POSSIBLE AUDIENCE WITHOUT RESTRICTIONS. And while we include all social media platforms in this discussion, and because so many patient advocacy groups use Facebook, the elephant in the room is undoubtedly Facebook.

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Stay tuned for more insight and opinions on the issues with social media, and please share your thoughts.

Thank you!

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