“The great promise of social media was that it would democratize and give a voice to everybody, but we have seen it... heading towards anarchy,” Alex de Carvalho says. “It has a darker side. Social media has been vulnerable to greater threats than anyone originally imagined.”
On the eve of Mashable’s Social Media Day — a worldwide event created in 2010 to recognize and celebrate social media’s impact on global communication — Carvalho wants to encourage everyone to consider the promise, pitfalls, and hopes for social media in the age of Trump.
Carvalho, a Miami social media professional currently working with a local startup, founded the South Florida chapter of Social Media Club in 2008. Locally, more than 7,200 members network and share knowledge online and in meetups. Past Social Media Day events in Miami have involved conferences with hundreds of attendees, notable speakers, and proclamations from cities and the county. The 2017 gathering is more social, with a happy hour and performance by Grammy-nominated Palo! at Ball & Chain in Little Havana.
For Carvalho, credibility is at stake. “The traditional model of blogging from about 15 years ago meant that you could establish credibility,” he says. “These days, you don’t have to post credible stories to be followed and widely read. The model has been turned on its head. People in power have learned to use social media to their advantage by putting out false information and propaganda.”
When people begin to doubt established media and tune into fake news, credibility morphs into sensationalism, which is where America’s tweeting president harnesses power and draws attention to himself.
Trump’s tweets are a phenomenon of the times. “He’s the ADHD president. He's a voracious consumer of news media. He’s a perfect mirror of our society,” Carvalho says.
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“What is remarkable about Trump is that he’s like the ultimate teenager who’s hooked on social media, like a kid who takes selfies every day to get likes,” he adds. “Trump makes outrageous statements, doesn’t care if they’re positive or negative, and gets thousands of likes and shares. He just likes to get attention. So not only is he a massive consumer of social media, he also reacts to social media. He would rather react to something from Fox News than be informed by top-secret security briefings. It’s unheard-of.”
The antidote to all of this, Carvalho notes, is to take personal responsibility for our own use of social media, maintain credibility in our own lives, and avoid promoting sensationalism. “It’s up to us now to practice social media in a way that’s positive towards the society we want to create,” he says. “Be critical about what you read, mindful about what you share, and research. Do a lot of research. That’s what Google is for.”
Follow Social Media Day South Florida via #SMDAYSFL, and learn more about Social Media Club South Florida on the Facebook group.
Social Media Day South Florida 2017
Celebratory happy hour at 6:30 p.m., live music at 8:30 p.m., and Palo! at 10 p.m. Friday, June 30, at Ball & Chain, 1513 SW Eighth St., Miami. Admission is free, but registration is required via eventbrite.com.