Web 2.0: Top five social risks list

Web 2.0 Social Web properties embody social risks. Here are the top five Web 2.0 Social Risks.


Kevin Rose, co-founder and CTO of Digg posted an open letter at his blog this week championing Web 2.0 Social Web properties such as his Digg (see “Digg vs. Netscape, Kevin vs. Jason, Web 2.0 vs. commercial Internet”):

Ya see users like Digg, Del.icio.us, Reddit and Flickr because they are contributing to true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations.

While Web 2.0 Social Web properties are free-to-the-consumer to use, they are not, in practice, “true, free, democratic social platforms” and they are not “devoid of monetary considerations.”

Web 2.0 Social Web properties, in fact, embody social risks.

Here are the top five Web 2.0 Social Risks:

SOCIAL FREELOADERS: User Generated Content Sustainability

I put forth the notion of Web 2.0 "Social Freeloaders” last month in “Social freeloaders: Is there a collective wisdom and can the Web obtain it?”

All of the Web 2.0 Social Web properties which rely on users to contribute content are faced with the “Social Freeloaders” phenomenon.

As in the “real-world,” interactions within social communities on the Web are dominated by an extremely small, self-selected minority of active, vocal participants.

Currently YouTube is reporting a video upload to video view ratio of one-tenth of one percent. YouTube says it is “empowering” users to “become the broadcasters of tomorrow.” YouTube’s sustainability, however, is dependent upon generating a higher ratio of user broadcasters contributing today.

SOCIAL “A” LISTERS: Validity of Democratic Platforms

The other side of the Social Freeloaders quandary is what I call a “Social A Listers” dilemma.

Rose believes that his Digg is a “true, free, democratic social platform.” As in any “democracy,” however, “power” is concentrated within the hands of a small number of hard working, motivated “volunteers” aiming to maneuver the “system” to their advantage.

In “Digg contributor: Social Web can be a 'very cruel place'” I quote a Digg commenter on the frustrations of a seemingly “inequitable” Digg system:

The problem is not only those who don't want to take part, but also the actual crowd that does post the comments. Ever since the bury system was implemented, digg has become a very cruel place. More so, submitting stories is very hard, especially when it seems that only a small percentage of users get their stories miraculously on the front page, while the rest of us schmucks get snide remarks from the other users for even trying to post a story.

SOCIAL NON-TRANSPARENCY: Anonymity and Hidden Agendas

Rose believes that his Digg is a social platform “devoid of monetary motivations.” In “Web 2.0 pay for play: payola, or transparency?” I discuss how untoward, financially motivated manipulation of Digg taints the notion of “true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations”:

Rather than the Web's “newspaper,” Digg is feeling more and more like the Web’s self-promotional tool.

I also discuss how untoward, politically motivated manipulation of Wikipedia is leading to “revert wars” and note the dangers of misinformation and vandalism at Wikipedia:

Perhaps upfront, fully disclosed payments to Web 2.0 contributors would dampen subterfuge currently transpiring at popular Web 2.0 properties.

SOCIAL GOSSIP: Idle and Malicious Talk

A gossip is said to be “a person who habitually reveals personal or sensational facts about others” and gossip is defined as “rumor or report of an intimate nature” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).

I call the individually-directed, non-productive, commentary and name-calling manifesting at Web 2.0 properties: "Social Gossip" 

I have discussed how "Social Gossip" is fueling Social Web interaction (see “Gossip, key to engaging Social Web community?” and “Digg: 'newspaper of the Web', or its gossip column?”):

This week’s Amanda Congdon post-Rocketboom 'show' has spurred Social Web engagement, via an enormous amount of gossip. Following her broadcast dramatization of the business split between herself and Rocketboom partner, Andrew Baron, Congdon posted a lengthy 'he said, she said' expose at her personal Website. Congdon’s 'heart wrenching' tell-all has inspired 142 comments posted by individuals declaring support for the 'wronged” Amanda.'

SOCIAL DEVIANCY: Anti-Social Behavior

MySpace, itself, warns its young “friends” about the inherent dangers of its open community:

MySpace makes it easy to express yourself, connect with friends and make new ones, but please remember that what you post publicly could embarrass you or expose you to danger. Here are some common sense guidelines that you should follow when using MySpace:

• Don't forget that your profile and MySpace forums are public spaces. Don't post anything you wouldn't want the world to know (e.g., your phone number, address, IM screens name, or specific whereabouts). Avoid posting anything that would make it easy for a stranger to find you, such as where you hang out every day after school.

• People aren't always who they say they are. Be careful about adding strangers to your friends list. It's fun to connect with new MySpace friends from all over the world, but avoid meeting people in person whom you do not fully know. If you must meet someone, do it in a public place and bring a friend or trusted adult.

• Harassment, hate speech and inappropriate content should be reported. If you feel someone's behavior is inappropriate, react. Talk with a trusted adult, or report it to MySpace or the authorities.