Point of view: Cogs in the machine

Molly Flatt

We were so young. We were so in love. We had so many plans… but it seems that our heady affair with social media is, if not exactly starting to sour, at least entering a more realistic phase, where hyperbolic assumptions are being questioned and complexities starting to emerge. This is a huge relief for those of us bored to the back teeth by the implication that a communications tool can ‘solve’, ‘save’ or ‘revolutionise’ anything. Those are jobs for people, not platforms, and technology can obstruct as much as it facilitates.

One high-profile example of this shift has been the judicial superinjunctions furore in the UK. At the time of writing, Twitter has agreed to co-operate with the UK Government and hand over the personal details of users who have breached superinjunctions. Twitter has been previously used to ‘out’ officially protected information – think Wikileaks and Trafigura – but never before has the ordinary guy had to suffer. People who have been blithely assuming that they control their word-of-mouth online have received a sharp reminder that the venues where their content sits, and even the content itself, are owned by big corporations.