ARA has long fought for greater accountability and responsibility in the technology industry, and has spoken out about pernicious impact of social media platforms. The following call for change is circulating among grassroots organizations, including musicians and songwriters. It’s a compelling description of the status quo and steps needed to make social media work for all of society.
Social Media: A Call for Change
A truism of American democracy is that with great power comes great responsibility. By that measure, social media has failed us, and we have failed ourselves.
Drawn in by the alluring promise of a more connected society, we have allowed social media to become the most powerful, all-seeing intelligence force in world history. Afaceless corporate giant built not only to monitor and decipher us, but actively surveil and control us in ways impossible for most to fathom.
What began as an innocent exchange of personal information for free use is now a direct threat to our personal freedom. Accessible to all yet accountable to no one, social mediahas become a playground of misinformation, distortion and manipulation — allowing the fabric of society itself to be torn apart in the name of corporate profit and political power.
While their ads proclaim the joys of shared experience, their algorithms divide us into ever smaller bubbles of uninformed, myopic thinking. While they claim to offer us privacy, every thought and emotion we share is captured, analyzed and sold to anyone who wants it. While their CEOs promise anonymity, their apps quietly track our every movement and now, identify every face. While they pay homage to truth, they allow lies to spread unchecked. While they praise transparency, they buy politicians, court authoritarian regimes, and bully anyone who tries to expose their true objectives.
Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. As users, we alone give social networks their power, which means we can also take it away. We can demand accountability. Insist on responsibility. Enforce limits on what is done with our data. Decide who profits from our content. Reject policies and technologies that violate our rights. Use our intelligence to question everything we see, why it’s being shown to us, and the motives behind it.
Creating this movement is why we’ve come together. At the heart of our mission are four key objectives:
• Stop the sowing of social media discord into the center of the American conversation
• Create a more educated, informed and aware user base
• Assemble the majority necessary to compel — and enforce — ongoing positive change
• Openly rethink the Facebook model, and/or create an alternative in the public interest
Every day we fail to do this, our national security and enduring values of tolerance and trust are at increasing risk. Focusing on the first two objectives as a priority will help to preserve the integrity of the upcoming election, which is essential for the sake of our nation, and to provide the right playing field for permanent solutions to emerge and gain critical support.
History will judge us by what we choose to do in this defining moment. The time is now to join with likeminded citizens and interests to make social media work for all of society, rather than those who will continue to weaponize it for their own gain.