Sena Partal: What do you think about the social media companies that are applying filters and recommendations to people’s information? What are the established interests behind it?
Geert Lovink: The mechanisms at work here have been known for years. The turning point is arbitrary but I would put it somewhere after 2008, when the founding frenzy of Web 2.0 had come to an end and the scaled-up platforms were getting serious about making money, in short, when the internet entered its monopoly stage. It wasn’t anymore about sheer possibilities.
The focus shifted to locking in customers...
SP: Do you think social media users in general are interested in having control over their news feed?
GL: I doubt it. Once a tool or service is new, we like to find out their affordances and play around with settings, we discuss them with peers. Facebook and many other social media services have become so powerful precisely because they became part our daily lives [speak for yourself --tm], they are now deeply routed into our routines. At first, me, and many others, were confident that the stubborn and independent internet generation would get bored soon, and would, almost intuitively, started looking for the Next Thing (as happened in the past with MySpace, Blogger etc.). This didn’t happen. Most users I speak to start to get uncomfortable when I raise the issue why they are still on Facebook. They got lured into it and do not know how this happened, and how to quit. There is no reason to quit. Slavoj Žižek is right with his bad [conscience] (we know it is bad for us but still use it etc.) [speak for yourself --tm]. Yet, he doesn’t offer an alternative either, and this is where the social media story gets stuck. Spreading critical information how news feeds work is good and feeds the uncomfortable feeling -- but doesn’t change much. It merely raises the paradoxes we have to live under. [or that people choose to live under --tm]