The death of participatory media

A recent report highlights the preferential treatment which a selection of Twitter VIPs, not least of all Musk himself, receive in terms of ensuring the visibility of their posts. The pseudo-democratic operations of the algorithm are now combined with manual boosts to a select elite. A similar operation can be seen in TikTok’s heating functionality even though the operations are quite different. I’m convinced this represents a significant change in social media. The notion these platforms were democratic and participatory was always fundamentally misleading but it was nonetheless possible for new users to join existing celebrities in the class of the ultra-visible. That’s the promise which is increasingly being withdrawn unless (a) you’re paying for the chance (b) you’re operating on a platform like TikTok which minimises the rewards available for creators. I think we’re moving into a new phase of social media in which the social assumptions of the last ten years no longer hold.

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