These are the worst social media trends in 2021 – and don’t expect any improvement in 2022


While President Joe Biden has campaigned for unity and suggested that we must end our “uncivil war”, the fact remains that nearly a year after the start of his first term; the country is even more divided than ever. This fact remains clear on various online platforms which could be more accurately termed “anti-social media”. There was open contempt ahead of the 2020 election, but instead of unifying the country, social media helped widen the divide.

“The worst development in social media in 2021 has been the acceleration of pernicious political publications,” said James R. Bailey, professor of leadership at the George Washington University School of Business.

“Social media has been a friendly platform to spew irresponsible ideology for years, but 2021 has set a new low,” Bailey added. “Much of the decline can be attributed to the 2020 elections, including, but not limited to, accusations of voter fraud and the January 6 insurgency. It is perfectly legitimate to question the election results and to protest in the capital. But social media allowed these oxen to explode as the Crusades rage. “

Also, there may have been a time when it could be said that Americans weren’t political enough, or didn’t pay enough attention to politics, but it seems today that it is. which defines us almost too much.

“It is ironic that democracy was designed around the idea that the more people participated, the better the collective and individual well-being,” Bailey noted. “This fundamental premise is now precarious. One hundred and ninety years ago, In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville warned against political participation. This note has become a cry, in large part thanks to social media. “

Challenge accepted

For young users, this wasn’t about discussing politics on social media, but there were still other disturbing trends that could likely get worse before they got better.

“At the micro level, the worst social media trends of 2021 have to be TikTok’s inexcusable challenges like ‘Slap a Teacher Day’, but the macro level has to be the continued degradation of adolescent mental health,” Dr Dustin said. York, Associate Professor of Communication at University of Maryville.

More of the same

Sadly, there is little reason to expect that, as the calendar swings into a new year, everything will change. The country will remain divided, but it will be as usual on the platforms.

“2022 will be a continuation of 2021; perhaps even more frantic. Americans were political every four years during the presidential election cycle,” Bailey said. “Now every day is a warrior’s day, especially for the millions of people who use social media to gather information and express their opinions. Virtual vitriol is now a constant. of cours. Many of these machinations will be simple business decisions. The problem is, social media isn’t tied to business models the same way as, say, manufacturing. There are no barriers to entry. A server, a web page and an attitude is all it takes. ”

Payment to come?

Given the scrutiny that Facebook and other platforms have faced, the question is, why is something not being done to address these various issues? And there is probably no easy answer.

“Unfortunately, there is no will from Congress to regulate social media content,” Bailey explained. “Federal Communications Commission Section 230 will not be updated because lawmakers on both sides of the aisle benefit from responsible and irresponsible social media. We should all expect social media to be constructive and destructive in the future.”

It’s not even clear how social media could be regulated. However, Dr Colin Campbell, assistant professor of marketing in the Knauss School of Business at the University of San Diego, made some suggestions.

“In terms of regulation, I consider the following changes to be useful / necessary: ​​making social media ‘closed’ by default so that user posts cannot go viral unless a user has explicitly chosen to do so; increase user verification of social media. China already does this when social accounts are linked to a national identity number. This makes it easier for users to actually get banned if they post inappropriate content.

Campbell also suggested that it may be necessary to repeal current laws – most notably Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act – that allow social media sites not to be responsible for what users post.

“If they were responsible – and could be sued in the same way that a newspaper can be sued for printing false information – I could imagine a rapid change in the speed with which social media sites can check for content. users, ”he noted.

“Until social media algorithms can be regulated, we’ll continue to see them dividing not only the dinner table, but the country,” York added. “In 2022, we will see the same level of toxic energy on social media, but reaching more channels. Look for the emergence of more politically oriented platforms, like Donald Trump’s new platform, Truth Social.”

While experts have agreed that regulation is coming, it likely won’t be next year.

“When Facebook spends tens of millions of dollars on lobbying every year and Congress doesn’t fully understand social media and algorithms, don’t expect change to act quickly. Remember, it happened. in 2021, ”York said. “A future generation will look back and think we were all crazy not to regulate social media faster, just as my generation wonders how much tobacco hasn’t been punished for half a century.”