The dark side of social media content creation

The dark side of social media content creation
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Would you rather watch a national television broadcasting channel say Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation Television (ZBC TV) all day or you’d rather spend your day on social media platforms? 

Back in the day, content creation was exclusively for professionals: journalists, filmmakers, photographers, music producers amongst other experts.
This trend meant that information/content was packaged with a lot of ethical considerations due to employer code of ethics imposed to all who worked in media houses.

The advent and popularity of social media in the last decade changed all this.
Social media has handed over power to audiences who in this instance are also users of these social media platforms to become content creators and not merely listeners, readers or watchers of content created by mainstream media.

The capability of audiences or users on social media to also become content creators and have their pool of audiences has brought negative and positive implications. To start with, the issue of user generated content can be clearly understood from a communication and economic based perspective. This type of content is one which is not or lowly regulated by both authorities and social media companies in charge of the platforms.

Secondly, user generated content is not uniform or standard if speaking from a professional point of view, this means that the content does not follow any procedural operations in the gathering, packaging, distribution and consumption processes. 
The four processes: gathering, packaging, distribution and consumption are what makes mainstream media unique.

However, most would agree that these standardised processes are what makes mainstream media boring and social media more popular and interesting.
Although social media is ‘fun’ and ‘fresh’, it has a dark side that is sadly tearing up the fabric of society.

Tiktok, Instagram, Facebook, X (Twitter), Reddit and several other social media platforms have become a new hub of youth entertainment not through media companies but mostly through social media content creators whom are basically users. Through a variety of ‘challenges’; ‘pranks’; and ‘lives’, social media has overtaken the world by a storm.

In Zimbabwe over the past week, rumours that a girl committed suicide after going viral in a video where she kisses a content creator for a minute to be awarded USD$5 has raised many questions. While many content creators do it for the likes and views which are termed ‘impressions’, it is the individual participants along their friends and families who suffer the most.

Another challenge where a content creator dares participants to give up their partner’s contact details so that they investigate whether they are cheating has broken up the much revered trust and love amongst many people. Again, the audiences who consume that content are left in stiches, awe or fascination while the story is completely differently from participant of these short videos also known as ‘skits’.

Social media audiences are unapologetic and unfortunately unlike traditional media there is little that a content creator might do to curb or gate-keep mentally disturbing feedback in the comments section of these platforms.

Recently, X which is known by many with its former name Twitter has introduced a feature which pays verified users for the content they create in terms of the likes and views the post gets and boy oh boy… 
For that money most content creators have truly sold their souls to the two horned beast.

From posting false content to posting socially unacceptable content, users on these platforms are doing all it takes to get the likes. At a time when social media is already infamous for allowing misleading information on their platforms. Such initiatives will only increase the misinformation campaign, without doubt, social media has brought fresh and more entertaining content.

However, its sadistic nature cannot be ignored and more need to be done by someone, anyone to make sure the platform remains safe… anyways what do I know, I am just a Gweru kid!

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