Newsletter #78: Bitcoin is down 60% in 6 months and the sceptics are out. But what really is the the state of the crypto economy. Plus; new research shows the extent that Americans believe social media censors political POVs. And TikTok addiction keeps on growing!
w/Issue #78 - 20th May 2022
Welcome, Wiser! friends.
There are now over 11,000 like-minded subscribers just like you who want to know what's happening and what's coming next in the digital economy. Thank you for your support.
Wiser! is a bit shorter this week, I have a buddy staying with me and we’ve been out every day. I'm covering the state of the crypto economy, new data on the impact of social media on society, and some data on TikTok 🕺🏻 in the attention economy. Plus other snippets of insight and information from the tech economy.
77% of Americans Believe Social Media Intentionally Censors Political Viewpoints
The research found that roughly three-quarters of Americans (77%) now think “it is very or somewhat likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints they find objectionable”.
The research shows that the belief that social media engages in political censorship spans both sides of the political fence. The key difference is that those on the right believe it more than those on the left.
Around nine-in-ten Republicans (92%) say social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable, compared with less than seven-in-ten (66%) amongst Democrats.
Here’s the thing: the narrative that social media is run by liberal lefties is an unfounded belief.
It is true that social media platforms take down content, but not for political views. They take it down because the content is about drugs, guns, self-harm, sex and nudity, spam and fake accounts, and bullying and harassment.
Think about it: Social media makes money by selling ads. Their business model depends upon users, like you and me, staying on the platform for longer.
They also know that content that enrages us keeps us on the platform longer. Differnces of opinion on ANY subject are a 100% guaranteed mechanism to keep us online.
It’s not in social media’s interest to censor political views. It’s dumb to think otherwise (that’s a cue to trigger you to write a comment and tell me I’m wrong 👇).
What we know about Facebook
Transparency: Every quarter Facebook publish a report about enforcing their community standards. It’s part of their larger push to open their kimono and be transparent.
The report shows us what types of content Facebook remove. It also is a telling indicator that they primarily remove material because it’s good for business, not because they want to censor political views.
NSFW: Universally, the ad based social media platforms have found that users, in the main (there are always exceptions), do not want to see nudity, spam content, gore and individual harrasement. This type of content drives them away.
One of my biggest criticisms of Twitter is that it is full of this type of content, with no filters to stop you finding it. The other day I was innocently searching for tractors and …..👀
The point is: social media firms want you to stay, not drive you away.
This is interesting: The Facebook shows that removing too many posts also drives users away.
For a more detailed read on this issue by the excellent Casey Newton, read this issue of Platformer.
The horrible mass killing of black people by a young white male last weekend threw the spotlight back on to the role of social media and the rise in hate crimes.
It crosses into the debate on free speech (back to Elon and Twitter again). And will be further exacerbated by the new law in Texas that will make it harder for social media to take down content of any kind.
I've written about it here...
The State of Crypto
Back story: Last Nov, the price of Bitcoin hit an all time hime of $69k. Today it’s hovering around $29-30k, that’s a 60% decline in 6 months or so. The market cap for all cryptocurrencies has gone from being bigger than the GDP of India (5th largest economy in the world) to the size of Mexico (the 15th largest economy).
The point is that because Bitcoin is so dominant in crypto, making up around 45% of the entire market, when Bitcoin sneezes, all other cryptos catch a cold.
Here’s the thing: there’s a lot talk of crypto carnage and the inevitable demise of Bitcoin. Lets face it, the sceptics are having a field day. And they may be right, who actually knows where this will end?
But…But….when you look at the history of Bitcoin all the way back to 2009 (only 13 years ago!), the trend is only going one way, and that’s up.
My point is: all markets follow a natural cycle of ups and downs, even the most mature ones. When it comes to Bitcoin, this is the 4th time that we've seen a big downturn (not the first, as many would have you believe).
We saw it before in 2011, 2013 and 2017. Now 2022.
Think about this: An oft-used analogy when talking about emerging technologies is the internet of the 1990s. Remember, before the dot.com boom and bust of 2000. Before the iPhone. When connecting to the Internet was slow and cumbersome. When the likes of Warren Buffett said he wouldn't invest in the Internet because he didn't understand it.
That’s the point: crypto in 2022 is like the internet in 1992.
To find out more, read this. VC firm A16Z just released its first-ever report on the crypto economy. Called the State of Crypto, it's a 56-page bull case for Web3, DeFi and cryptocurrencies.
There's a ton of data and analysis and opinion in here that not everyone will agree with. It depends on your perspective when it comes to crypto.
P.S.: It seems that Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway is a crypto investor after all. Source: Vettafi
Users spend an average 26 hours a month on TikTok
Prof G: Professor and entrepreneur Scott Galloway has a YouTube channel. Every week he posts a Chart of the Week. They’re 1 or 2 minute in length, aka "shorts". This week, the Chart is about TikTok.
Anyhow, Galloway’s point is that 4 years ago users spent an average of roughly 8 hours a month on the app. By 2021, that had grown by a third to 26 hours a month.
That’s more than 3 working days a month and is more than usage on Facebook and Instagram combined
This growing level of addiction to TikTok is being driven by its 1 billion users who are all producing the content for free. And that’s the point…Netflix spend around $17 billion a year to produce content for the 225 million subscribers whereas TikTok spend nothing.
w/Snippets of Insight and Information
- Twitter is in disarray. The company’s top executives are leaving. Its share price is unstable. Its reputation is hurting. And its employees are frustrated. “It should not be possible,’ said one employee recently, “for individuals to toy with the world in quite this way, and yet…” Source: Big Technology
- Microsoft reportedly censors searches for politically sensitive Chinese personalities. The censorship even applies to searches in the US and Canada, researchers say. Source: Engadget
- Tesla has been booted from the S&P 500 ESG Index, and Elon Musk thought the decision was bad. After the news broke, he went on a Twitter tirade, calling ESG “an outrageous scam” that “has been weaponized by phony social justice warriors.” Source: Morning Brew
- Apple are reported to be ditching the Lightening Cable and switching to the universally adopted USB-C cable. This comes after pressure from the European Union to standardise phone chargers amidst concerns about the growth in electronic waste. Source: TNW
- Google's ad business could get broken up if a bipartisan bill by US senators gets passed. US lawmakers introduced the Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act, co-sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz and Amy Klobuchar. If passed, it would be the biggest change to US antitrust laws in decades. Source: YouExec
- Apple’s new mixed reality headset is on target to be released by 2023. In a major sign of progress, the team behind the device debuted the AR/VR headset to the company’s board of directors. This is the company’s first major new product launch since the Apple Watch in 2015, and it could replace the iconic iPhone in the next 10 years. Source: CNBC
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