What does it mean to be social in the age of authenticity? The latest New York Times Article, The Future of Social Media is a lot less Social” ponders how our current culture shapes social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. How will we interact with them? How will our relationships with these platforms change?
In recent years, the negative impacts of social media have become front-paper topics. Brands, influencers, and public figures have become scrutinized for their lack of authenticity in representing themselves or their products. Since then, people have changed their views on social media and the way they use it. As our lives become increasingly interconnected through technology, the consumer’s power over social media platforms is rising.
In response to the public decry of social validation, inaccurate influencer marketing, and misinformation major social media platforms such as TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc are evolving. Instead of focusing on social validation, likes, and follower counts, they are shifting towards fostering more authentic content and communities.
In this article, we examine all of the shifts made by major social media platforms to keep up with the consumer’s need for authenticity.
TikTok has become the top social media platform because of its technology and core idealogy- “Real People. Real Videos”. Unlike Instagram, the TikTok algorithm has always prioritized authenticity and content over popularity. The platform’s algorithm is primarily based on a user’s “For You” page and their activity. It also considers each TikTok video’s engagement rate, comments, shares, and relevance to each user’s interests and punishes videos that are deemed low and untrustworthy.
By focusing on engagement and watch time, the TikTok algorithm creates a more diverse and inclusive environment, where creators with a smaller following can still have their content reach a wider audience.
In addition, TikTok has launched a screen time limit that restricts users under 18 years of age to two hours of screen time per day. The limit helps to encourage healthy social media habits and reduce the negative impacts of excessive screen time on mental health. By limiting the amount of time teens spend on social media, TikTok is promoting a more positive relationship with the platform and encouraging them to use the app in a more meaningful way. The screen time limit also encourages teens to take more meaningful actions on social media, such as building communities and engaging with others, rather than simply scrolling mindlessly.
In 2022, Twitter recently launched its “Communities” feature, which enables users to create and join groups based on shared interests. With this new feature, users can create and join groups based on their interests. Communities can either be public or private, and users can join up to 5 communities at a time. Users can also appoint moderators who can approve new members and manage posts.
Due to the public demand for authentic conversations and interactions via their platform, Twitter aims for this launch to increase engagement to adapt to the new era of social media.
The launch of the “Communities” features is so significant because it signals a shift from the individual to the community. Instead of focusing on individual users and their followers Twitter now creating a home for niche communities, common interests, and meaningful conversations.
As a result, Twitter is now fostering greater authenticity among its users and prioritizing genuine connections and conversations over follower counts and likes.
In early 2020, Facebook launched the Quiet Mode feature as part of its effort to promote healthy social media use and well-being. While in quiet mode, users can set a schedule or limit their screen time. As a result, users will not receive notifications or see new posts. By giving users more control over their social media use, Facebook hopes to foster a more positive and balanced relationship with technology. The platform hopes the new feature in turn will decrease stress, anxiety, and depression while encouraging users to create more authentic content.
In June 2022, Facebook made another push toward community marketing by redesigning its discovery engine. Similar to TikTok, Facebook’s new engine suggests content based on the interests and engagement history of each user.
As a result, the new design places a stronger emphasis on short-form video content in hopes to foster a more immersive experience for its users and increase engagement.
In January of 2023, Instagram launched the Quiet Mode feature to promote a healthier relationship with technology and foster more authenticity and community in social media. Through this feature, Instagram allows users to limit their time on social media in hopes of promoting a more mindful approach users have to its platform. While in quiet mode, users can turn off notifications and send auto-replies via direct messaging. The platform will also prompt teenage users to enable quiet mode during nighttime. Finally, the new quiet mode allows users to manage their focus by filtering out more content that doesn’t interest them.
The platform has also introduced features like the ability to manage notifications, a dashboard that shows how much time users spend on the app, and a tool that allows users to restrict comments and filter out offensive content. These features aim to create a safer, more supportive, and more authentic community on the platform.
The focus on fostering authenticity and community is also reflected in Instagram’s recent changes to its algorithm and content policies. The platform has introduced new features like Reels, which allow users to create short-form video content. The platform has also made changes to its policies around content creation and distribution to provide users with more opportunities to express themselves and connect with others in a more meaningful way.
Overall, Instagram’s focus on quiet mode, well-being, and community reflects a growing awareness of the potential negative effects of social media use and a commitment to creating a more positive and supportive online environment.
Reddit has been making significant changes to its platform, particularly in terms of features and evolution, in recent years. When Pali Bhat, joined Reddit as its Chief Product Officer in 2019, Reddit has been working to make the platform more accessible, user-friendly, and community-based.
One of the key changes that Reddit has introduced in recent years is the addition of new features like community awards, which allow users to reward and recognize their favorite contributors in different subreddits. This feature helps to foster a sense of community and encourages users to engage with each other positively.
The platform also launched a social audio feature called “Reddit Talk” in 2021. In this new feature, users were able to host live audio conversations or AMAs (Ask Me Anything) in dedicated subreddits. Although it has since close down earlier this year, it’s still important to discuss because it highlights the efforts social media platforms are going to to foster more authenticity amongst their users.
Regardless, of the hits and misses Reddit has faced over this period, they are still placing a massive bet on authenticity. According to an article in The Verge, Reddit is investing in machine learning and AI to improve its platform and to better moderate content to reduce hate speech, harassment, and misinformation.
In addition, the company is also working on a feature called “Crowd Control,” which will allow moderators to set limits on how often users can post or comment, helping to prevent spam and abuse. Reddit has also developed an AI-powered tool called “Mod Mode,” which allows moderators to quickly identify and remove harmful content.
Overall, these changes and new features signify Reddit is moving away from its reputation as a platform that prioritizes anonymity and free speech towards one that emphasizes authenticity and inclusivity.
The recent launch of new features in popular social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Reddit signal a shift towards creating more meaningful connections and building communities online. Rather than just serving as a source of entertainment or distraction, these platforms are becoming tools for connecting people with shared interests and promoting more authentic interactions. By prioritizing community-building over follower counts and likes, social media platforms are creating a more inclusive and engaging experience that encourages genuine connections and conversations.