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Social Media Report 2022

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This document provides information about the current state of social media platforms and how they impact society. Entries below are in chronological order by date posted to YouTube. The source used as the title for each entry. Some commentary at the top of the page explores this topic further.

For more on this topic, read “Social Media Report 2023” and “Social Media Report 2024.”

Social Media Alternatives

EMAIL — One of the original mechanisms of communication over the Internet is the ability to send email to individuals or groups. Recipients can reply to one, or all of the recipients, or selected members of the original distribution.

FORUMS — A popular and effective method of online social interaction has been the use of forums. These began as BBS systems in the 1980s and evolved to chat rooms and organized forums. An advantage to forums is that they are typically organized by topic and subjects within a topic. A forum member can sign-up to receive email notifications.

MASTADON — As Facebook and Twitter are in decline, people are looking to alternatives, a social network called Mastadon has become more popular. It is a service that isn’t designed to promote extremism and and social conflict.

BLOG — A blog service like Blogger or Tumblr is a free and effective way to share ideas online. Such services allow a person to have their own profile page and share videos, photos, and other items.

WEBSITE — A personal website provides a more independent presence online. You can have your own website address and present information in a structured way on pages and posts. The website address can be whatever you want, if you pay for a registered name. Or, your website address could be something like yourname.service.com — where the name service.com is the company that provides the website hosting (usually with ads). An example would be WordPress.com hosting.

Social Media Concerns

NOTIFICATIONS — A criticism of social media is that the notifications are disruptive and addictive. Yet, notifications existed before social media with emails, text messages, and even weather alerts. So, notifications aren’t necessarily a problem unique to social media.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES — Social media is often criticized for allowing conspiracy theories to spread. Many of the conspiracy theories existed on AM talk radio long before social media. At least with social media, people spreading lies can be questioned in a publicly visible way that wasn’t possible with radio or TV. The deeper concern is the ability for the social media platforms to promote certain content and direct it to people susceptible to being pulled in.

ADDICTIVE — It’s certainly true that social media is addictive, but before social media people were getting addicted to video games, watching TV, eating snack foods, smoking, or gambling. Many people can get sucked into addictive activities. Social media is just one more activity that attracts people. The videos below itemize how social media is designed to be very addictive. This is similar to additives in foods to make them more addictive.

HIGH STANDARDS — A concern about social media is that the online culture has evolved into being narcissistic and causing people to compare their own looks and lives with others as portrayed online. While this is true, it is not necessarily a problem inherent in social media. We’ve seen a similar problem with television and magazines that present unrealistic and artificially altered images.

BULLYING — A concern about social media is that it facilitates bullying. While this is true, the deeper problem is the underlying cruelty of people who are different. The problem of bullying has existed long before social media. Pointing at social media as the “cause” of bullying is misguided and kicks the can further down the road for a future generation to solve. We need a more compassionate, accepting, and welcoming society that isn’t altered by whatever technology is available in the moment.

ISOLATION — When people are spending significant amounts of time online, even if they have many online friends, their interactions are not in-person. It’s like eating food without nutrition. You feel like you’re eating, but not actually getting fully nourished. So, this is the concern about people interacting online rather than in person. While this is true, social media has grown to become a means of communication where people learn about in-person events in their community. It’s replaced the events section of the hometown newspaper.

Social Media Reform

Given the explanations provided above, any effort to reform social media, or replace it with something better, would need to also reform human behavior.

We need to be honest, transparent, and comprehensive about the problems that are unique to social media. We should not misrepresent a problem, or attribute it as unique to social media. We need to acknowledge the positive ways that people use and benefit from social media. For all the examples of bullying and extremism, there are people sharing poems, photos of flowers, and helping others.

If a service like Mastodon can be independent of manipulative profit-driven programming, a service like that could better serve humanity. Instead of trying to maximize profits and clicks, perhaps a goal could be to maximize trees planted, or maximize civic education, or maximize donations raised for non-profits.

So, changing human behavior and changing the desired goals of the service would be needed for effective reform.


Sabine Hossenfelder (17 Dec 2022)

“Fake News, Echo Chambers & Polarization: How Bad Is Social Media?” — Does fake news spread better than true news? Do bots spread fake news? What can we do against fake news? Does social media increase political polarization? Is it true that we all live in political echo chambers? In this video, we look at what scientific studies have found and what we can learn from that. [Source]

Deutsche Welle (14 Dec 2022)

“Is the tech giant “directly responsible” for professor’s death?” — A group of Ethiopians are suing Facebook-owner Meta for allegedly promoting violence in Ethiopia’s civil war. The case includes the son of an ethnic Tigrayan professor, who faced repeated death threats on the platform. The lawsuit says Facebook ignored requests to remove the violent content, and the company is “directly responsible” for his death. [Source]

60 Minutes (12 Dec 2022)

“Suing Social Media: Families say social media algorithms put their kids in danger” — More than 150 lawsuits against social media giants TikTok, Meta and others will proceed next year. Sharyn Alfonsi spoke with some of the families suing social media. [Source]

60 Minutes (11 Dec 2022)

“Meet the teens lobbying to regulate social media” — College sophomores Emma Lembke and Aliza Kopans think lawmakers should hold social media companies accountable—and they need youth voices to do it. 60 Minutes is the most successful television broadcast in history. Offering hard-hitting investigative reports, interviews, feature segments and profiles of people in the news, the broadcast began in 1968 and is still a hit, over 50 seasons later, regularly making Nielsen’s Top 10. [Source]

60 Minutes (6 Nov 2022)

“Social media and political polarization in America” — The co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology tells Bill Whitaker social media companies are profiting off Americans’ online anger. [Source]

  • Quote: “[individuals should] simply refuse to be gladiators in the coliseum of social media.” (11m 56s)

The Social Dilemma (27 Aug 2020)

We tweet, we like, and we share— but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? As digital platforms increasingly become a lifeline to stay connected, Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen. [Source]

Kristin Gallucci via TEDx (27 Nov 2019)

“Social Media is Making Us Unsocial” — Social technology is simultaneously connecting us and isolating us. It’s affecting everything from our basic social relationships to the way that we work, learn and experience. Social media should be a support to real relationships, not a catalyst to losing them. Kristin Gallucci speaks to marketers about Marketing with emotion to move brands to align with customers and act with passion. Kristin has over 20 years of experience leading strategic digital marketing, social media, influencer engagement, and analytics initiatives for brands. [Source]

CBS Mornings (10 Dec 2018)

“NIH study tracks effects of social media on adolescent brains” — New research aimed at understanding the impact of social media on adolescent brains is already showing fascinating results. The National Institutes of Health study is following more than 11,000 children over a decade. Anderson Cooper spoke to the researchers for Sunday’s “60 Minutes.” Psychologist and CBS News contributor Lisa Damour joins “CBS This Morning” to discuss the study. [Source]

Ryan Thomas via TEDx (12 Dec 2017)

“Live in the Moment: Delete Social Media” — The integration of social media into everyday life has increased dramatically in recent years. Most view it as a positive driving force for social change; however, the over-saturation of social-media driven information in society has become a negative influence with far reaching consequences on the way we interact and work. Ryan Thomas is a senior at Loudoun County High School. He intends to run track in college while pursuing an Ivy-League level education. Ryan is motivated by the impact that he believes he can have on society, and is always striving to be his best. After deleting social media, Ryan was able to see the world in a different light and immediately noticed a positive change in his life. He is an unshakable optimist, and believes that there is always opportunity for change, which he wants to help bring to people’s lives. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. [Source]

Bailey Parnell via TEDx (22 Jun 2017)

“Is Social Media Hurting Your Mental Health?” — Scrolling through our social media feeds feels like a harmless part of our daily lives. But is it actually as harmless at seems? According to social media expert Bailey Parnell, our growing and unchecked obsession with social media has unintended long term consequences on our mental health. [Source]

Oxford Union (21 Feb 2017)

Below are selected videos from a debate about the impact of social media. The full playlist from the event is available on YouTube. [View]

“Social Media Corrupts Human Interactions” — The speaker in this video is a competitive debater, and therefore the views expressed may not necessarily represent his or her beliefs. [Source]

Dr. Cal Newport via TEDx (19 Sep 2016)

“Quit social media” — ‘Deep work’ will make you better at what you do. You will achieve more in less time. And feel the sense of true fulfillment that comes from the mastery of a skill. [Source]

  • Quote: “Social media brings with it, multiple well-documented significant harms.” (7m 30s)

PBS (2 Jun 2016)

“Teens on being tethered to their phones and social media” — Teenagers today have never known a world without smartphones and social media, and most of them can’t even conceive of a time where people sat around the dinner table without checking their Instagram pages. We asked a handful of eighth-graders from a Los Angeles public school to give their Brief But Spectacular takes on what technology means to them. [Source]

Paul Miller via TEDx (13 Sep 2013)

“A year offline, what I have learned” — Paul Miller is an American Technology Journalist from Springfield, Missouri and senior editor for The Verge. During the past year he decided to disconnect from the hyperconnected world in an attempt to ‘find himself’ and become more productive. He abandoned the internet and disconnected from all Social Media, returning to a life before the net, apps and smartphones. His experiment gained worldwide media attention when he published his article ‘I’m still here’ at The Verge. After a year of living ‘disconnected’ he published his findings and caused quite a discussion on hyperconnectivity and the influence of the internet on our daily lives. [Source]

By Greg Johnson

Greg Johnson is a freelance writer and tech consultant in Iowa City. He is also the founder and Director of the ResourcesForLife.com website. Learn more at AboutGregJohnson.com