I know Facebook is the worst but here's a story about the floods we had in this valley in 2015: the single most important resource people used to get help and food to people in need was Facebook, everyone with various needs was coordinating through a 'Calder Valley Flood' group: food, sandbags, pumps, people with 4x4s, people with elderly family in the valley who couldn't get in to check on them, asking locals to do it. All that done via Facebook. Not being on Facebook is a privilege.
this all happened completely spontaneously, it was something everyone had access to, in and outside the valley. It was more important than the central emergency points set up at the town halls. We had people from outside the valley asking if anyone could check on elderly family, and the 4x4 bros (who are normally a source of ire, during lesser floods they like to power through the water creating wakes that worsen the damage for properties alongside roads) were heading out to help.
having said all that, the flipside which probably completely cancels out that good stuff is my mum and other family members are exposed to loads of anti-vax, conspiracy, and racist content. My mum is the only family member I'm in regular contact with because the rest are so problematic to me (in terms of racism and general world view)
This remains regardless: in an emergency people elsewhere in the region were able to head to Facebook and type 'floods todmorden' or wherever and within seconds could put out a plea for help - I can't see any other channel that would be able to do that. The emergency services were swamped and nothing else is as pervasive. Which makes the weaponised political abuse in recent years all the more depressing (all enabled by Facebook for profit).
@oppen yeah, it's pervasive infrastructure that can be used for good or bad. It's like a car: it can transport you to the hospital or it can run you over. The car doesn't judge.
If you build a clean system that nobody can use, it's worthless in a disaster scenario. And hate them as much as you want: Twitter and Facebook have built out global-scale infrastructure that can be accessed and used by everyone because they're familiar with it.
@fedops like that Jaron Lanier book says: it's argumentative and hostile interactions that get more engagement and therefore more ad impressions. That's what's driving this race to the bottom.
@oppen thanks for sharing these experiences. I try to keep an eye on what people are actually using to communicate in hardship situations. (For instance, at least a few years ago the Syrian refugees apparently tended to communicate by FB or WhatsApp groups.)
The interesting challenge is whether we can create and sustain alternatives that are good enough and gain enough cultural currency over time that people are comfortable reaching for them when they really need them
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