Between the slow motion train wreck that is Twitter, and the Reddit’s crisis management approach resulting in the overwhelming majority of the subreddits going dark, it looks like at least some folks in for-profit platforms are realizing two things:
1. The people who own and occupy the C-Suites at these sites do not see their obligations to the people using these sites in a way that works for many of the people actually using these sites; and
2. These sites only have value because people show up.
The most impressive trick of the current incarnation of the internet involves millionaires and billionaires convincing regular people that our time, stuff, privacy, and attention aren’t worth much. This is the sleight of hand that allows Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, Discord, Instagram, Tiktok, etc, to prosper. The same is also true for sites like Uber, Lyft, AirBNB, and related sites who have managed to promote schemes where private individuals donate their possessions (cars, homes) so that for-profit entities extract value.
To get a clear sense of how these companies view us, believe the definitions and labels they create about us. They need us, but they don’t respect us. At some point, enough people will have enough frustration to overcome the inertia blocking meaningful change.
Image Credit: landing page of https://reddark.untone.uk/ on Monday, when the Reddit protest was in full swing.