Ethical Social Media
Coms' Mission Statement
In building Coms
' platform for online communications and social networking we seek to make ethically-mindful decisions regarding how the software can effect people who use it.
aspires to be a trusted resource, not only in terms of privacy and security, but by being known as a vanguard in the advancement of social values cherished by reasonable, critical-thinking, well-intentioned people.
Un-ethical social media platforms manipulate their users for financial gain. They use techniques like outrage and flattery to cynically exploit people's emotional needs to create and amplify dependency on the platform, to keep people coming back for more.
Un-ethical social media platforms collect as much personal information as possible. They read private messages and they monitor, record and analyse users' on-site behaviour to build psychological profiles which enable them to sell people's attention to the highest-bidding advertisers.
This approach not only invades privacy, but it de-humanizes people, treats them as assets, narrows people's perspectives, reinforces social and material biases, and causes social separation, isolation, distrust, suspicion and conflict.
social media platform
Keeps personal data private
Coms collects as little personal information as possible, uses it only for account administration, and keeps it safe, secure and private. Coms Messenger certainly does not inspect the content of private messages! Messages relayed over the webservers are deleted upon collection, encrypted while stored on the user's device and can be deleted anytime.
Promotes respect and integrity
Social interaction can be entertaining, constructive, enriching, but bad actors can also be offensive. By enabling people to self-moderate what they see on the site and by pro-actively banning and removing anti-social, divisive and destructive posts, Coms Chatter fosters an atmosphere of social-responsibility, respect and integrity.
Thrives or fails on its virtues
By rejecting technical and psychological tricks designed to emotionally bind people to the site, Coms can be sure that its members stay active only because they find tangible value in the community.
Cannot be financed by advertisers
"We cannot have a society in which, if two people want to communicate, the only way that can happen is if it's financed by a 3rd person who wishes to manipulate them" - Jaron Lanier
The business of big-data-for-marketing is considered fundamentally unethical because its íntended purpose is the winning of hearts and minds by under-handed, nefarious means in complete disregard for consumers' health. Coms
deprives the advertising industry of the data it wants by simply not collecting it.
So, what does Coms
do to infuse the platform with ethical principles?
Content sorting, filtering and moderation
Coms Chatter does not analyse members' engagement for the purpose of sorting and promoting posts which A.I. believes (or is paid to insist) that people will find interesting. Rather, posts appear in chronological order and members have full control over who they Follow and Block, and can choose to read only posts by people they are Following, or the full Chatter stream, as they please, without any influence from outside commercial interests.
Opt-in, rather than opt-out
Push notifications (notifications pushed to a user who is not currently using the platform) are invasive: they can grab one's attention at inopportune moments and disrupt one's concentration. Many tech platforms abuse this service for their purpose of "re-engagement" - causing users to revisit the platform (only to see more ads). Coms offers push notifications only for incoming messages, video calls and contact requests, and members need to opt-in to receive them.
By providing only a small photo-space and single text field for self-presentation in members' profiles, Coms Chatter discourages narcissism, taking the view that the content of members' posts better illustrates their character and value in the community.
Minimizing superficial engagement
A Thumbs-Up is the minimum form of engagement that one can have with a social media post - it says nothing more than "I approve". By providing no variations on the Thumbs-Up method, Coms encourages deeper engagement in the form of comments, which are clearly more expressive and likely to elicit responses. With replies and comments to engage in, people are less likely to care how many lesser-value "Likes" a post has.
Encourages video calling
Coms believes that face-to-face conversation is far more valuable than written comments or Likes.
Therefore, to encourage more meaningful connections, at top-right of the page Coms provides a quick 'n' easy way for members to start their webcam and broadcast a thumbnail image every 3 seconds. Contacts can click on the thumbnail to start a video call in CallStudio.
Mitigating the "infinite scroll"
The so-called "infinite scroll" is that function whereby a page automatically loads more content without the user having to click to get it. Coms considers this method to be extremely convenient, but recognizes that it can enable people to scroll endlessly looking for something of interest, at the expense of everything else one could be doing. Therefore, Coms Chatter fetches only 10 posts on each scroll-to-the-bottom and displays an on-page message of the number of posts already viewed, in an effort to encourage mindfulness.
Discourages secretive private groups
Coms Chatter groups are open for everyone to view and join - groups cannot be made private. Only individual posts can be private, viewable only by Coms-contacts of the poster, which means that the audience for private posts cannot be larger than the poster's immediate circle.
To provide deeper insight into Coms
' position on social networking, we offer and recommend the following links:
Center for Humane Technology
Tristan Harris on YouTube
Jaron Lanier explains the addiction
... and two enlightening documentaries available on Netflix:
The Great Hack
2019 documentary film about the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal
The Social Dilemma
2020 docu-drama about big-data, behaviour manipulation and degradation of democracy.