When I worked in academia, we used to joke that universities were great places to work — except for all the students. We loved the ability to work along side bright people, and contemplate new ways of addressing old ideas. The same is true for Social Media. It is a great resource to contemplate new ways of addressing old ideas — now, if we could just ignore all the people out there.
There is an inherent problem with Social Media tools (in this post, I’ll limit my discussion to blogs and Twitter.) It was apparently glossed over yesterday at Legal Tech, but was astutely picked up by Ohad Reshef after the presentation. Very soon, spammers are going to make some of the best parts of social networking tools worthless.
Currently, those of us that are pushing the benefits of Twitter, or the comment strings on blogging, are telling our colleagues that this is a wonderful resource where you can truly get a water cooler topic going on a global scale. I can post this blog, and someone in Australia can comment almost immediately. I can follow a discussion on Twitter by searching for a hash tag topic (such as #LTNY) that is being used. It is truly a great process of sharing ideas and having that global conversation. Unfortunately, it is also ripe for being crushed by the very openness that makes it so great.
Consider this – If I were a spammer, or someone with malicious intent, I could practically disable a Twitter topic with very little effort. For those of us that every used Yahoo or AOL chat rooms, you remember the chat bots that would inevitably come in and take over a room? Well, unfortunately we face a similar fate with Twitter topics. All it would take would be someone to start blasting hash tag comments on four or five automated Twitter accounts to make the effort of following the topic too difficult. So far, we’ve lucked out that this hasn’t happened… but it will.
As for blogs, we already see that one of the most popular legal blogs, Abovethelaw.com, has had to adjust its comment viewing policy due to the fact that the openness that allows everyone to comment, has become so inundated with trash and obscenities, that it makes it virtually worthless to monitor anymore. And, the sad thing is that the readership of this blog is very bright, but apparently so caught up in the “game” of creating noise on the comments, that I seriously doubt that half of the commenters even read the story. Even on this blog, we’ve had to remove comments because they are comment spam.
I’m dreading the day that we have to “monitor” or “hide” the comments because half of them are either spam or trash. I’m dreading the day that I can no longer monitor Twitter comments because half the comments are spam. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the social media honeymoon while it lasts!