It’s arduous to not discover when the millionaire Orkut Buyukkokten enter the universe. The 47-year-old Turkish knowledge engineer virtually all the time wears brilliant coloured garments. Not solely that. With a smile on his face, he usually exchanges handshakes and heat hugs – not forgetting to ask the interviewer if he can do that. A graduate of Stanford University, Buyukkokten was liable for one of many first social networks, which bears his identify. The platform, which was created by him and managed by Google, grew to become very talked-about in Brazil due to its communities (who doesn’t bear in mind Eu Odeio Acordar Cedo?), that it reached 30 million customers within the nation – 55% of all Planet. Despite its pioneering spirit, the network could possibly be closed in 2014, after dropping customers who moved to rivals who had been extra seen within the state of affairs, akin to Twitter and Facebook. In this interview, given in São Paulo after giving a controversial discuss on the Campus Party on know-how, Buyukkokten criticizes the current network, takes a shot at Elon Musk, asks concerning the metaverse and talks about plans to create a brand new platform.
With Orkut, you created the concept of a social network. What do you consider them right this moment? If you concentrate on social networks within the outdated days, with Orkut and communities, you’ll keep in mind that folks used the platform to make new buddies. And there are a lot of wonderful tales of customers getting their dream job, assembly their finest buddy or falling in love, getting married and having youngsters. Those had been the times, within the early 2000’s, when social media existed to attach folks, not be lonely and be completely satisfied. Since then, there have been vital advances in know-how akin to machine studying for synthetic intelligence. Now we’ve got algorithms that management our meals, and that has modified the panorama rather a lot.
So do you assume algorithms are the largest downside with social media? Another query. Are algorithms designed to extend happiness and convey folks collectively, or simply to make a revenue? Today social media is all about earning profits. If you concentrate on right this moment’s world, we reside in a managed atmosphere. Everything private we’ve got on-line is transformed into knowledge. And that info is used to construct fashions that predict particular person conduct. We people make decisions in predictable methods. Therefore, codes can management adjustments.
And what are the results? This is what makes platforms so dangerous, as a result of all of us attempt to do issues as a substitute of attempting to attach. As a consequence, a spot of deep despair, nervousness, isolation, unhappiness and different critical psychological issues are created, which might result in suicide.
“In the network, we attempt to date as a substitute of attempting to attach with one another. Because of this, folks get depressed and even commit suicide.”
Many platforms have applied content material controls, together with tweaking algorithms. What else are you able to do to stop these evils from occurring? We have seen this story many instances earlier than. Tobacco firms claimed that smoking didn’t hurt folks, and many individuals died of most cancers. The huge pharmaceutical firms mentioned that opioids and painkillers weren’t addictive, and many individuals grew to become addicted. The similar is occurring with social networks. They do plenty of injury. What we’d like is to get off the web, as a result of it is affecting our well being. Many of my buddies who stopped utilizing these providers and platforms agree that they’re much happier now.
What is it as a substitute? The supreme could be a social network that desires to carry folks collectively relatively than simply revenue from them. Social media is very worthwhile, because it is identified. But there is no cause to be so grasping. Orkut had adverts on group websites and had no unfavourable unwanted effects.
After Orkut, you launched Hello in 2016, which is based mostly on picture sharing. What occurred to the tower? Hi, that was nice. Instead, what we did was beta testing. In Brazil, we’ve got reached virtually 2 million subscribers. We had been, at the moment, capable of finding what we referred to as energy customers and construct communities to search out out what they anticipate from social media and what sort of services they like. We created a really profitable program that recorded many actions akin to Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. We will reap the benefits of all these experiences to launch, later, a brand new social network.
Recently, you re-opened Orkut with a message that you’re going to give a information quickly. Will this new platform be a model of Orkut 2.0? Orkut is an excellent model as a result of it likes to carry folks collectively. In the previous there was a concentrate on the Internet as a result of folks accessed the Internet on laptops and computer systems, not their telephones. With the brand new social media, there will likely be a larger concentrate on cell phones. If there’s one factor that will not change, although, it is that we’d like communities. We must encourage these communities as a result of they’re what carry folks collectively – most of the time, the strongest connections are made round commonalities. These days, the web simply lures us into the sector the place we combat for engagement. But it is unhappy that it isn’t a subject to speak about anymore.
Does Twitter, with all the pieces Elon Musk has been doing, together with the relief of the Covid-19 info, have an opportunity to outlive in the long term? Of course not. Social media ought to have regulatory instruments and expert moderators to make sure that public content material is not poisonous and dangerous. Using freedom of speech as an excuse for emotional dishonesty is dangerous conduct. Speech needs to be protected so long as it doesn’t trigger falsehood and hurt the general public. There are many varieties of speech, akin to terrorism, human trafficking, youngster pornography and violence. This is very troublesome.
And what does Musk must do to make such info unfold? Twitter has an obligation to guard its customers. In a world with out the web, when a lady or a person is being raped, you possibly can’t say, “I’m sorry, harassment is freedom of speech.” Since Elon Musk took over Twitter, you possibly can see that there is racism and anti-Semitism there. There is plenty of anger and hatred locally. It additionally creates a poisonous tradition throughout the firm that leads to the lack of proficient staff. Another consequence is the departure of advertisers. For Twitter to outlive in the long term, Elon must rebuild belief amongst customers and common advertisers.
In Brazil, Twitter customers additionally sought different platforms. There was plenty of curiosity in Koo, often called the Indian microblog. Do you assume they’re simply altering addresses? Brazilians are inquisitive and love new applied sciences and are early adopters of social media. No surprise Koo has change into well-known in such a short while. The huge query is: Are they right here to remain? For instance, when Clubhouse was launched in Brazil, it had many customers. But right this moment nobody talks about him anymore. In order for the brand new Koo to be sustainable and profitable each globally and in Brazil, it wants high quality and motion. Twitter was nice within the early days. The greatest downside I see in Brazil is that they do not know the Brazilian tradition and viewers.
“Using the liberty of speech to unfold dangerous phrases is incorrect. Ever since Elon Musk took over Twitter, there was racism and anti-Semitism on the platform. “
Meta, the corporate that manages Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, lately laid off greater than 10,000 staff. There had been tales of falling gross sales and the exit of advertisers. Is the massive tech trade lifeless? Two fascinating issues occurred alongside the way in which. Many customers have began migrating to TikTok. Engagement is down and this straight impacts cash. The second level was the introduction of the metaverse, which to this point has no main and significant capabilities. The firm, spends some huge cash on analysis to develop this method. As a consequence, earnings are not so good as they was. One of the best methods to enhance your monetary numbers is to chop prices. And what needs to be accomplished to cut back it? Firefighters. But I believe this is unfair.
You talked about the metaverse. Do you assume we’re prepared for this type of occasion? There are packages that work very nicely. For instance, in video games like fortnite, minecraft and roblox🇧🇷 But I believe the very last thing we’d like proper now is sitting in a convention room with our 3D avatars speaking to one another. We must be in a room, that is, the place we are able to see one another’s faces. We must be extra linked, and social media is making us much less bodily linked. It is additionally necessary to emphasise that we’ve got not but reached the technological degree to have an entire and passable data on this dynamic atmosphere. As a bunch, we do not even must be there. Because if there’s one factor the pandemic has proven us, it is that we must be collectively greater than ever, as a substitute of simply being on-line.
What do you concentrate on the way forward for social media? The network is apparently right here to remain. They will likely be in our lives for a very long time. It has rather a lot to do with relationships, organizations, governments and politics. It is essential that we use good social networks, which make us extra completely satisfied, which carry us nearer to different folks. It is additionally necessary to concentrate to the information. We want to assist journalists and journalists. The finest means to do that is to make use of content material on the primary information web site. This is extra necessary than ever on this technology when the variety of false information continues to develop.
Published in VEJA on December 21, 2022, version no. 2820