There are two Influencer types. IRL (in-real-life) and Digital. We know what In-Real-Life is. So what is the Digital Version? Algorithms. What are Algorithms? As computer code, they work invisibly behind the scenes in everything we do online. They work especially hard in Social Media. They are extremely powerful and the reason why we see and engage with most of what we get in our feeds.
They are basically the reason why Social Media is successful. If they were taken away, there would be no spontaneous active feed. Our Social Media pages would look more like an empty browser page before we begin searching for something.
Its why I consider Algorithms an Influencer. They strongly affect what we see and therefore what we think after viewing online content.
I lump real-life influencers and algorithms (aka: algos) together as the same thing. However, the law currently does not.
There is a special Law, called Section 230. It was created way back in 1996.
Algos have come a very long way since 1996.
Human influencers and digital algorithms have a lot in common. Their beginnings are rooted in reaching more people online. They both started out mostly working for free. They both have become immensely powerful. Both have become massively monetized.
Right now, legally speaking, humans (in-real-life influencers) are considered the content creators and the social media platform is considered only and merely the distributor. Algorithms and social media companies have been able to rest within the protection of Section 230 in our Communications Act. It takes the position that the platform is inactive and the users are the ones creating all the interaction.
Maybe then, but this is may no longer be the case.
Section 230 Indicates The Position That Social Media Platforms Are Passive Entities. They Are Not.
The increased sophistication of algos and the recent rise of platforms such as Facebook and YouTube and Twitter actively editorializing content means they cannot be considered passive. They actively INFLUENCE what we see and engage with online.
Section 230 Argument –Newspapers and magazines and TV media, etc have been aggregating content in the physical world for as long as they have existed. Yet they do not have the same protection of Section 230 as the digital platforms. Traditional media is now hugely online but they are not granted Section 230 to the extent digitally native social media companies are.
Parity needs to happen here.
True, traditional media that is online has the same protection under 230 as do natively digital platforms. EXCEPT- traditional media exists in both worlds- online and offline. Digitally native social media companies only exist online. The lines have blurred. How we are influenced no longer pays attention to this distinction. Section 230 needs to view the outcome from the readers’ point-of-view, not the platforms’.
The power of algos combined with the active content curation has altered the role platforms play in the INFLUENCE the user.
YouTube is headed to the Supreme Court for the behavior of their algorithms. They are getting sued for pushing specific violent content to users and the case says that supported terrorist activities. In other words, it supported and INFLUENCED the viewer.
Human influencers became legally required to disclose they are paid for a post.
In-Real-Life Influencer Kim Kardashian just settled with the SEC for her non-disclosed promotion of cryptocurrency. Traditional Media outlets are legally responsible. Yet, Social Media companies still remain protected from their responsibility.
Algorithms within social media platforms serve up content just like real life influencers do. Like I said, we need PARITY in the sphere of INFLUENCE.