Wikipedia founder wants us all to go on a social media strike this week

Over the last year or two, the darker side of social media has begun to shine through the ever-dulling sheen it once had.

If it’s not a matter of data being compromised though, there is something else questionable happening behind the scenes at some of the bigger social media firms.

And that brings us to Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia who is on a crusade of sorts.

The co-founder is trying to convince folks to take part in a strike on 4th July where nobody would log into social media websites or apps.

As outlined in his blog, Sanger hopes create a Declaration of Digital Independence which:

  • declares that users have digital rights to free speech, privacy and security;
  • list the ways in which “Big Social Media” has violated the aforementioned rights;
  • and, put into words principles of decentralised social media networks which would outline a better systems for the sector

“Essentially, social media should be decentralized. Our data should be owned and served by ourselves, just as we own and host our own blogs: it’s BYOD, or ‘Bring Your Own Data.’ Social media services like Facebook, Twitter, and their smaller alternatives and successors should aggregate the data from many different places, just as blog readers aggregate blogs. In short, they should be fully interoperable not just with each other but with their many smaller competitors,” explains Sanger.

The Wikipedia co-founder rightly points to numerous instances where users have become complacent as regards their social profiles.

While we certainly agree that something needs to be done about the control third parties have over our data, there’s something of a painful irony in Sanger’s request.

Firstly, the co-founder wants his message to go massively viral on the same platforms he is trying to up end.

Secondly, Sanger hopes to send people to other decentralised social media instead of the bigwigs. The gesture is rather nice but it seems incredibly ambitious.

We say this because if knowing your data was compromised and Facebook admitting it had responsibility for deaths in Myanmar weren’t enough to get you to leave Facebook, what good does a strike do?

Beyond all of those reasons, Facebook has become vital for communication purposes around the world. While Sanger might not feel the need to use Messenger, the mother in South Africa who can only use that service to communicate with her kids doesn’t really have a choice.

Yes, we agree that drastic changes need to be made to social media firms but a strike feels like a cop out.

So to Sanger we ask, with your plethora of connections in the first world country that is the USA, could you and your ilk perhaps do some hard work and speak to your mates about fixing the mess that has been created?

Perhaps an earnest conversation will do more than your protest “going viral”.

For those interested in signing the Declaration of Digital Independence you can head over to Sangers blog and scroll to the bottom of the page to sign your name.

And if you think we’re cynical, we are because when has an online petition ever solved anything?

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]


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