Social media generates a lot of ephemeral heat and light for companies caught in the spotlight; nothing more.

Social media consultants are making a fortune. They dispense advice to businesses who find themselves under attack on social media. When will companies learn that they should save their cash. These scandals fizzle out almost as fast as they arrive. What’s more the damage tends to be short-term. Hardly ever does a social media storm inflict long-term harm. Take United Airlines for instance. When they bumped a passenger off a plane, Twitter and Facebook exploded.

Shares in the airline dipped but only a few weeks later they’ve recovered well. Far from crashing and burning at best, United was only singed. Recent social media campaigns involving Lego and Uber followed the same journey. After a few weeks they disappeared from peoples radar screens.

Even major issues take a similar path. Take Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal, which cost $2.8bn in fines. This subsided and did not affect sales in the long-term which were up 3% last year. And share rice has been climbing at a steady rate since then.

Social media generates a lot of ephemeral heat and light for companies caught in the spotlight; nothing more. For me the major problem with social media are issues such as copyright breaches, piracy and fake news. Moreover it gives a platform for criminals and terrorists.

Social media companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter deserve to be in the legal and political firing line.

Companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter deserve to be in the legal and political firing line.

They wield vast influence, nearly two billion people use Facebook, yet do precious little to police the content of their sites. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says he is hiring 3,000 people for its “community operations team", to help stop hate speech, child abuse and self-harm being broadcast on the website.

“We’re going to make it simpler to report problems to us, faster for our reviewers to determine which posts violate our standards and easier for them to contact law enforcement if someone needs help," he said.

While this is welcome more I doubt that they’ll never cope with the flood of abusive material. Tech giants should start by tacking anonymity. It is this that facilitates illegal and unwanted online behaviour. All social media companies must make sure that only those willing to authenticate their identity can post content. Until then they will continue to undermine the trustful interaction on which society depends.

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Also published on Medium and LinkedIn .

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