The future of social media in the face of growing homogenization

Each application releases its algorithm on (effectively) the same content pool, and eventually a winner will emerge. Getty Images

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Social media feeds merge. Instead of using separate apps for friends, family, news, culture and entertainment, you can now see everything on Facebook, Youtube, ICT Tac and Instagram. Open any and you’ll likely be watching vertically looping videos, almost certainly from people you don’t follow. The content is so similar that it’s easy to forget which app you’re on.

The homogenization of social media is a testament to the success of TikTok – AI-based recommendations simply crush the following pattern – but when apps seem so uniform, they don’t tend to persist for long. Winners can ride and dominate, creators can assert their worth, and governments can be emboldened to act. A degree of this is already happening; the rest will probably come.

This week, let’s look at four main ways the increasing homogenization of social media is likely to happen:

A winner will take the market

The following template, despite all its flaws, allows you to create separate streams on different apps. You can create a news and culture feed on Twitter, a friends and family feed on Facebook, a celebrity and interests feed on Instagram, and an entertainment feed on YouTube. But when those apps replaced the tracking model with algorithms — which consider all of an app’s content and serve what they think you’ll like — the purpose-built feed died.

Now we are in a testing phase for AI-based recommendations. Each application releases its algorithm on (effectively) the same content pool, and eventually a winner will emerge. A slightly better app will attract more users, which will give it more data to improve its feed, which will attract more creators to pump it with content, which will open up its lead. It’s a steering wheel. And eventually, lesser applications will get worse and fall.

“There is a very real possibility that the use of artificial intelligence – some – or generally one of these companies will walk away with the app everything,” said Kevin Systrom, founder of Instagram and Artifact. said on Big Tech Podcast last week. “The benefit you get from having a large user base, from having the best AI for recommendations, is huge.”

A ban becomes plausible

Ahead of his testimony before Congress, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew shared that 150 million Americans and 5 million businesses use his app. The implication was that banning TikTok would hamper these companies’ ability to reach customers. But US government officials are aware that businesses on TikTok could migrate to YouTube or Instagram. This reflects their consideration of TikTok’s place in the United States.

“TikTok is uniquely replaceable,” FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr told me over text. “TikTok’s algorithm is not built on the social graph. This means people can switch to other platforms with similar approaches to delivering short videos and gaining traction faster than with an app. So that element of replaceability certainly makes it relatively easier to get a ban from TikTok across the finish line.

Carr supports a TikTok ban. And while the United States has more to debate on whether it is appropriate, he is right about how the state of social media will be considered.

More revenue will flow

Advertisers love standardization. It helps them know how much to pay, what to create, and how to measure. And when they can do the three things, they spend. On its own, TikTok didn’t deserve all the attention from ad agencies because it was just a one-place, albeit very popular, format. But when the format appears on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, this kind of standardization is appealing.

“It’s a multi-year effort to bring spending to scale when a new format is released,” one media buyer told me. Over time, platforms whose engagement has shifted to Reels, Shorts, and the like will see some of that money catch up.

The best creators under controlI

Finally, when all platforms index the same content, they will be desperate to differentiate themselves. So they will bid for the designer exclusivity. Millions of dollars will go to creators who promise to publish on one platform – or even delete their accounts on others. Applications will be programmers, not just builders, using human taste, judgment, and negotiation skills alongside their AI. This is the big joker of this competition.

The homogenization of social media will have real consequences

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