We already have MNP or mobile number portability in India. That is, the ability to keep the same phone number but freely moving across different Service Providers. That helps us to choose the best plan for ourselves and keeps the Service Provider companies’ exorbitant price hikes in-check. We also have multiple Cloud Services providers, Data Storage providers, Banks, and so forth where we can change our service providers to choose what suits us.
I was listening to this podcast by Guy Kawasaki where he was interviewing Dr. Sinan Aral, who is an MIT Professor and has written a book called: The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt.
Dr. Aral suggested this strange-sounding but still worth paying attention to idea: Why can’t Social Media companies act like Social Service Provider? Each of their users (i.e. us) should be free to change the service and move over to another while taking all of their data and friend lists with them.
For example, say I have 800 friends on Facebook (I had 1000+ but one day I cleaned it up) and say I am not on Twitter (I am but I just tweet about the weather). But I am done with Facebook’s privacy rules and constantly showing up of ads on my Timeline. So, if I want to move on to somewhere else, I have to lose all my data then and there. I would lose all my private messages, photos, comments, and so on. Instead, I should have the ability to either download everything that Facebook has recorded with my account (which is after all a unique ID). Or, I should be able to port it all to another social media website, say Twitter. Of course, each one has its own functionalities but in general, they all have Text, Photos, Replies, and private messages as their primary functionality. Moreover, I should also be able to connect to (via APIs) any user (or block them everywhere) from any other social media website.
This idea would help regulate not only the companies who just flaunt the monopoly and power they have over people’s lives, but it would also increase accountability on part of the user. Basically, all these companies are just service providers and they should behave in such a manner. Really interesting if this happens!
One downside from user’s perspective is that this would need a user to lose their anonymity to an extent if they show up with their real name on Facebook but you want to say whatever comes to their mind on Twitter as anonymous. But we need to choose what we find more precious, our data or our freedom of expression.
You can listen to the full podcast here where he talks further about other things which make Social Media what a behemoth it is: