Status Quo

Traditional social media platforms, operating on centralized models, have increasingly revealed their limitations and challenges.

Initially, many social media platforms aimed to connect people, facilitate information exchange, and foster shared interests, providing a space for authentic social interactions. Over time, these platforms have deviated from their original principles and vision, resulting in significant changes in purpose and features, which has led to criticism and dissatisfaction among users.

Today, traditional social media platforms are increasingly dominated by professional creators producing elaborate contents, while average users find themselves posting less frequently due to the pressure to constantly curate their online presence to meet the expectations and standards of both the platforms and other users.

Additionally, the traditional social media platforms inherently harbor core issues that significantly affect user experience, data privacy, monetization, content control, communities, businesses, and genuine community engagement.

  • Data ownership and control: Users on traditional platforms lack true ownership and control over their personal data. This centralized control of data raises significant privacy concerns, as user information is frequently shared or sold to third-party advertisers without explicit consent, resulting in potential misuse and unauthorized monetization. The lack of transparency in algorithm functionality, content moderation decisions, and data usage, further undermines trust and engagement.

  • Monetization imbalance: Despite generating content and driving engagement users are inadequately rewarded for their efforts, because the economic benefits are disproportionately skewed in favor of the traditional social media platforms. This problem is often cynically described as ‘If the product is free, you are the product.’

  • Engagement algorithms and mental health impact: Coupled with unrealistic portrayals of how social media contents should be, the traditional algorithms tend to promote sensational contents, detracting from meaningful social interactions. This in turn results in a negative impact on users’ mental health.

  • Neglect of local communities and businesses: Traditional platforms often overlook the needs of local communities and small businesses, prioritizing homogenous contents produced by large businesses and advertisers. This approach fails to support yet-to-be discovered, unique hyperlocal ecosystems where users live in.

  • Isolation over genuine interaction: Despite their global reach, the traditional platforms prioritize virtual interactions over real-world connections, contributing to a sense of isolation among users.

The centralized nature of traditional social media platforms has led to significant challenges in terms of privacy, fairness, mental health, community support, environmental impact, and user autonomy. These issues underscore the necessity for a transformative approach, which SmartPlaces aims to provide.

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