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Social Media Censorship The Elephant in the Room that Marketers and Influencers Must Address

Most individuals get information and news from digital and social media platforms. Nearly two-thirds of adults obtain news on social media, and nearly half of them take in news on Instagram specifically. Digital platforms have therefore developed a cottage industry of influencers who can significantly impact follower purchasing choices. Market analysts believe that influencer marketing generates $650 million to $800 million annually in sales. We've also seen our political discourse degrade into a toxic toxic sludge chock-full of bots, trolls, cyberbullies, hate speech, filter bubbles, and, yes, lots of censorship.

Written by
June 15, 2022

Social Media Censorship The Elephant in the Room that Marketers and Influencers Must Address

Photo by harshahars on Pixabay

Digital and social media have become the primary source of news and information for most people. Nearly two-thirds of adults get news on social media, and almost half report getting their news on Instagram specifically. As a result, digital platforms have also become home to a growing cottage industry of influencers who can have a major impact on the purchasing decisions of followers. In fact, some market researchers estimate that influencer marketing generates between $650 million and $800 million in annual sales for brands. Social media is also where our political discourse has been devolving into an increasingly toxic cesspool that’s filled with bots, trolls, cyberbullies, hate speech, filter bubbles and yes — lots and lots of censorship.

Censorship on Social Media is Evolving Fast

Social media has always had some level of censorship — but the amount of censorship has been increasing dramatically in recent years. The most obvious change is the widespread removal of controversial content both on the biggest social media platforms and on the ad networks used by those platforms. Facebook has come under particular scrutiny for its censorship practices, including its apparent bias against conservative voices. Facebook has also removed content related to certain product categories on several occasions, despite the fact that many of those products (such as breast augmentation) are not illegal. And Twitter has recently come under fire for a bot problem that includes a large amount of abusive content. As censorship becomes more widespread, it also becomes easier to accidentally censor yourself. This is particularly true when attempting to avoid the algorithms that govern many social media sites.

Why is Social Media Censorship Bad for Business?

The best way to understand why social media censorship is bad for business is by looking at the impact of censorship on news publishers. The recent explosion in censorship of news articles on social media has had a profound impact on the publishing industry. Many news sites have seen both traffic and ad revenue decline as a result of being pushed out of Facebook’s News Feed. And a survey of thousands of journalists found that 70 percent of respondents felt that censorship on social media is a significant threat to journalism. The growth in social media censorship also has implications for democracy. Political scientists have found that social media played a significant role in the 2016 presidential election, including influencing voter turnout. And research suggests that social media is making us more tribal and polarized.

The Role of Influencers in Marketing

An influencer is someone who has authority or social capital in a particular area and can therefore positively impact the purchasing decisions of their followers. Influencers may be celebrities or they may be everyday people who have a large social media following. Many brands have hired influencers to advertise their products on social media. This is particularly common in the beauty, fitness, and health and wellness industries, where product endorsement is common. Brands have also used influencers to promote their brands or products without using traditional advertising. This is known as influencer marketing, and there are several advantages to this method. First, it’s often less expensive than traditional advertising. Second, it’s also more scalable. And last, it’s more targeted than traditional advertising, which often reaches a broader public than is appropriate for the product or service being promoted.

Bottom line Marketers and influencers must work together to fight back against censorship.

While social media censorship is bad for business, it’s also not inevitable. The first step toward fighting back against censorship on social media is to wake up to the fact that it’s a problem. There are several things that marketers can do to promote a more open and constructive form of public discourse on social media. It’s important to stay informed about censorship on social media, and it may be helpful to join an organization such as the Trust Alliance that is working on this issue. It’s also important to speak out against censorship when it occurs, and to promote ethical standards for online advertising. And it’s important to recognize that social media is a two-way street. If you see someone engaging in speech that you find offensive, you should feel free to confront them and promote a more constructive discussion. If enough people do this, it can make a real difference.

How to Respond to Social Media Censorship?

Keep informed about censorship - Read the news and stay informed about what’s happening on the major social media platforms. Learn about the issues that are being debated and discussed online. Be a responsible online citizen - Promote a positive and constructive public discourse online. Don’t engage in toxic speech or behaviour online and don’t troll other people. Stand up for your rights - If you see someone engaging in censorship, speak out against it. You don’t have to accept censorship just because it’s happening on a private platform. Stay informed on digital issues - Digital issues will continue to have a significant impact on all businesses. Make sure you are informed about the issues that will impact your business.

3 Strategies to Fight Back Against Censorship

Fight for Net Neutrality - Net neutrality is the principle that all data on the internet be treated equally. It’s been under threat recently, and if it’s abolished, it could lead to significant censorship. Demand transparency from social media platforms - Social media platforms are private companies, and as such, they can censor speech however they want. But it’s important to hold them accountable for their actions. Fight censorship where it starts - Cyberbullying and hate speech are often precursors to censorship. It’s important to fight these problems because once they take root, they can be used to justify censorship.

Bottom line

Social media censorship is a real problem that threatens to hurt businesses and destroy our democracy. Digital marketers must therefore take a stand against censorship on social media by staying informed and speaking out against censorship wherever they see it. And they must also work to fight back against censorship at its source by promoting a more positive public discourse online.

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