Dear Farillio Expert: Can we control the darker side of social media? The Media Psychologist, Charlotte Armitage makes suggestions.

5 min read

Friday 23 Jul 21

Dear Farillio member,

On 27th April 2021, you asked our brilliant expert Charlotte Armitage on the Go Far Fast Show:

“There's an even darker side of social media where people conceal their true identity's and portray themselves as somebody else. Sometimes this is in a mild way such as enhancing their looks or exaggerating their bios. Other times it's in a more sinister way and is designed to deceive other users into parting with information or agreeing to meet up in dangerous situations. Do you think there's anything that can be done to control this?”

And Charlotte said:

Be mighty always, Farillio


“I think there's a multipronged approach to this kind of thing. As I mentioned before, having an identity verification system would help with this. Educating people about the pitfalls of being online would also help. We haven't spoken about it today in too much depth, but we see a lot of false portrayal and editing of oneself online, particularly amongst young people. Young people often edit their bodies, and they are unachievable. These images have an impact on other young people, and indeed everyone. However, I know we're talking about something more sinister here.

It's about educating. Education for ourselves and our children, and also for older adults and people who are unfamiliar with these platforms so they know what's safe and what isn't. The easiest way to do this would be for some rules to be put in place, such as identity regulations. At the end of the day, you can't walk around giving yourself somebody else's identity in the real world. You have to be accountable for your actions and your behaviours in the real world.

The problem with social media is that people don't have to be accountable for their actions and behaviours because they can pretend to be somebody else. They can pretend to be anything. That's the issue, there's no accountability for behaviour and that's why this stuff goes on. If people are held accountable and accounts are verified, I guarantee that there will be a reduction in trolling, abusive behaviours and bullying. Of course, in the real world, you will still find people who are bullies, but it's minimal in comparison to what we see in the online domain. Once people have to put their face and name to comment they will think twice about posting it.

In addition perpetrators and people who are trying to prey on the vulnerable will be much more easily traced online if they have to provide identity verification. I think there are solutions and things that could be easily implemented, they just haven't been. Probably because social media likes the fact that a lot of people go online with different avatars and personas to what they would use in the real world.”

Ask your question:

If you have any questions that you'd like us to ask in a future Go Far Fast Show, send us a DM on Twitter or on LinkedIn. We'd love to hear from you!

Want more from Charlotte?

You can also find Charlotte’s answers to other questions being asked by you and your community in our Dear Farillio Expert section on our blog site, and Charlotte’s great guidance on social media and mental health here. Download the full podcast here.

Please note: The contents of this blog are not tailored business advice or legal advice. This is guidance and information, which we do our best to keep current, relevant and helpful. If you need business or legal advice, please use our Speak To An Adviser service or you can get in touch via our LiveChat.

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