Value communication via social media platforms
A vision of sustainable and responsible social media consumption and production.
How it all started.
Our journey began by chance at a friend’s birthday dinner. For the past months, Karen had been following an Instagram account whose mission was to conscientize users about problematic online behaviour from both, the consumers, and platforms end. Problems such as unrealistic beauty standards and fake, overromanticized lives, fuelled by excessive filtering and editing, leading people to feeling self-conscious and the need of constantly comparing themselves to others, being only a few. The use of algorithms that lead people to fall into these rabbit holes of the same one-sided, repetitive content, which usually polarises and divides people’s opinions, came hereby particularly to our attention. Simultaneously, Cathrin was reading about influencer marketing and how brands take advantage of people’s self-esteem problems (enhanced by social media), and their trust and admiration towards public figures to sell them… well, anything.
So, it came that on that day and time, we both formed a very strong connection over this shared interest and decided to dive deeper into the topic, bringing it to other people’s attention.
When we first started, our focus was from a more anthropological point of view. We wanted to show people how to have a more sustainable and responsible digital footprint. However, the more research we conducted, the more we realised how big and complex the issue actually is. The topic went from portraying fake lifestyles, to influencing governmental elections through hidden data points, taking people’s personal information, and using it to modify their content consumption, all possible via favourable algorithm designs. We eventually decided that the point both themes had in common were the values that are being communicated. Our exploration phase left us wondering how social media platforms could become so powerful, unregulated, yet undeniably influential?
After talking to various stakeholders involved in legislative bodies from different countries, it was confirmed to us that the gap between policymaking and social media platforms is huge and increasing.
“With these platforms constantly growing and transforming, it is extremely hard to create accurate policies that stay relevant for longer periods of time, especially considering the great breach in international collaboration.”
That’s when it occurred to us; that maybe one way to enhance global cooperation was through commonly adopted agendas worldwide, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. So, it really came as a great surprise when we went through all the SDGs sub targets and indicators, only to find absolutely nothing that directly related to digital technology, let alone social media platforms. It was then when we both realised that this needed to change, and therefore become our main parting point.
Where we are at right now.
With the support of our incredible network of stakeholders, we have decided to take on this journey and transform it into a project we can continue working on during our next semester. We are therefore looking forward to collaborating hand-in-hand with our partners, to create an advisory report that is forwarded to change agents operating on a national and international stage.
Aiming to communicate the relevancy further and faster, we would love to connect with more people involved in the topic; so, if you are interested, please feel free to reach out to us, we would love to hear from you!
Ann Cathrin Nachtwey: firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen Zarazua Gasque: email@example.com