A Little Elitism Will Help Rein in Social Network Trolls, Haters

By Mike Elgan  |  Posted 2016-08-16 Print this article Print

Meanwhile, Google is quietly creating an elite level for Google+. The social network added a closed community for makers, artists and other creative types. To be admitted into this exclusive club, you have to be nominated by an existing member. The main benefit of Google+ Create is that everybody there has been vetted.

Unfortunately, Google+ Create benefits only the tiny number of members and not the general Google+ user community.

New Elite Social Networks

The great thing about capitalism is that when industry leaders fail to solve the public's problem, the market solves it for them.

A new social network now in open beta called Gab attempts to solve the social harassment problem by creating ad hoc elitism for every post.

Gab has several unique features. Posts or "Gabs" have a character limit of 300. Gabs appear in reverse-chronological order—like Facebook and Twitter used to.

Gab is a little like Digg, the social news aggregator that once was enormously popular, but has since faded to a shadow of its original profile after management departures and the piecemeal sale of the company's assets.

But like Digg, Gab members can "upvote" and "downvote" Gabs. As with Digg, this creates elitism because both posts and users can be ranked. Those users consistently posting heavily upvoted Gabs will become the Gab aristocracy. The trolls and haters will be allowed free expression, but will sink to the bottom in popularity or interact among themselves.

Even better, according to the Gab website, "Gab will empower users to self-censor and remove unwanted followers, words, phrases and topics they don’t want to see in their feeds."

In other words, the trolls can be shunned by the Gab society.

Furthermore, like YouTube, Gab will enable users to monetize their content. So there will be an upper socioeconomic stratum on Gab as well. This incentive should attract elite content creators, making Gab content better.

Another social network, called Hello, has another way to create elite groups within social networking. Hello was created by Orkut Büyükkökten, the developer of Google's Orkut social network.

Hello enables each user to post using up to five "personas."  For example, if you're a book-loving foodie, you can post as a book lover or a foodie. You can also post anonymously on the fly. So if there's a sensitive topic you don't want to be harassed about by trolls, you can flip over to anonymous mode for just that comment or post.

Hello seeks to promote elitism by letting you earn "karma" points based on the quantity of your engagement. Those points allow members to earn a level from 1 to 40. That means if a troll is booted off the network or blocked and creates a new account (as is common on Twitter), he or she will have to start over with the "karma" points. Those with lots of points can be assumed to have a reputation that didn't get them kicked off.

This feels like the gamification of social, but in reality it's a system that gives users signals about the quality of other users and the content they post.

As the social harassment problem has now proved, egalitarianism is fatal to constructive social discourse, to the dissemination of diverse voices and to the happiness of social network users.

Let's stop deluding ourselves and admit that when it comes to social media, elitism is the solution.


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