Thursday, April 25, 2013
Social media risk and mitigation in society
On Tuesday April 23 2013 a report that there had been explosions at the White House caused a blip in the stock market. Perhaps blip is an understatement. The length of time that the stock market crashed before its almost instantaneous correction could be called a blip but the distance it fell was somewhat more extreme than the word blip characterizes.
The reporting mechanism that was used to relay the false information was twitter. More and more often people are turning to social media to get their news because it not only substantially faster but it also provides a multitude of perspectives. These perspectives in the longer term lead to a natural vetting process. It is something that we are all grateful for. The fall of the market could have lasted substantially longer and as a result had a stronger impact.
Maybe it is the pessimist in me but I began looking at the event and wondered if there was a way to take advantage of that situation that anybody might see or was it just an interesting little thing that happened.
It didn’t take me long of course to recognize that with that fast a shift that if a person or persons could predict that the event was going to happen then they could make a substantial profit.
I also figure that if somebody had sinister intent that perhaps they might make effort to make such events more long lasting. Then it occurred to me that people with sinister intents might also be those looking to make substantial profits.
So here is my question. Do we need social media investigators? Twitter has a natural vetting process as people report events like this but do we need more? What kind of harm is our society being exposed to through the use of social media?
Government has begun using social media and is beginning to recognize the power that this new technology represents. With new technology there is always a growing period in which both intentional harm and unintentional harm happens and it is the responsibility of all of us in this open platform environment to mitigate that our society will face as a result. I am saying it is a responsibility for all of us because that is after all the nature of the platform, to spread the responsibility, risk and benefit.
I think that the natural vetting process of information is a good beginning but if the government is going to protect its citizens I think there will have to be some additional policing to handle more organized and intentional risks that are going to be presented through social media. After all we have already seen the power of organized harassment through social media and new laws are being written as a result of those case that have led to more than one suicide.