▷ Social networks: a dangerous space for dialogue for society? 2020 -

In 1995, when he created Classmates. com, a simple online platform aimed at helping users find their school friends, the American engineer Randy Conrads was far from imagining that he would change the history of the Web, and more broadly that of our society, by inventing the world’s first social network. The basis of the project: connecting natural persons in a virtual space for dialogue. Successful bet !

The marketing influence glossary

alt=”Marketing influence glossary” width=”280″ height=”176″ />Are you planning to launch a marketing influence campaign? How to create the conditions of trust and success between the brand, its partner, and influencers? Speaking the same language! It’s exactly for this reason that we set out to create this Marketing Influence Glossary. From the “influencer capsule collection” to the “fit influencer” to “KPI”, discover more than 50 definitions around this powerful communication lever.

More than 20 years later, according to a study by We Are Social and Hootsuite, more than 3 billion people, or around 40% of the world’s population, use one or more social networks to communicate, have fun and to inform. Leading the pack: Facebook with 2.2 billion users, followed by YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram that have surpassed the 1 billion people active on their networks.

The Web is an open space in which everything is commented on, shared, known, amplified, multiplied, noted, anonymized, pseudonymized, generalized and shared again. From loop to loop, from repetition to repetition, the mass of information created by Internet users is such that creating content and not going unnoticed on the Web has become an obsession for many brands, institutions and personalities who are drowning in it. constant flow of information.

To grab the attention of the public, the buzzword is to make the buzz. In a society where the quantitative overshadows the qualitative, where the “snack content” erases the “slow content”, where the short, dynamic, simple and audiovisual formats make the long analysis texts “has been”, where digital media record audiences significantly higher than paper newspapers and magazines, the famous television and radio host Léon Zitrone sums up the egocentric mindset to have today to capture the light: “let’s talk of me for good or for bad, whatever, the main thing is that people talk about me. Popularity in 2018 is sneezing on the screen and receiving hundreds of messages the next day saying, “Wishing you my dear friend.” ”

But who are these billions of Internet users active on social networks? Why do they like these platforms? What are the advantages, abuses and risks of these spaces for dialogue? Is it possible and desirable to control these networks which, in a sense, condition life in society?

The madness of social networks

Contrary to popular belief, social networks do not only concern the youngest who stage their daily lives on the Web. Each social network has its utility, its identity, its codes and its community. On Facebook, for example, users are on average between 18 and 49 years old and share personal content with their loved ones.

On Instagram, 90% of connected people, mainly women, are under 35 and 53% of them use this platform to follow brands and celebrities. YouTube is used to consume audiovisual content, WhatsApp to communicate instantly with its telephone directory. LinkedIn is used to create a circle of professional influence and get a job, and Snapchat to exchange ephemeral posts with friends out of the sight of parents. Finally, Weibo allows you to read a personalized news different from that offered by traditional media. In short, there is something for everyone, for all ages and for all groups of individuals who feel they belong to an inclusive virtual community.

Including and not excluding is the essence of these e-platforms. Gabrielle Mendes, director of marketing, communication and digital at PwC, comments: “Internet users feel the need to share moments of life, discover new horizons, come together around common passions. Social networks can be compared to a living organism that evolves and changes over time. ”

If they open a very broad access to public space, and therefore, in theory, to democratic debate, social networks and other spaces of online dialogue like forums have their dark side: they offer marginal points of view , including the most dangerous, the possibility of reaching the general public. Digital tools favor vice and what is intolerable in public is just as intolerable on the Web. The anonymity offered by the internet should in no case be a motivation for committing crimes punishable by law.

It is a fact, in England as everywhere else in the world, justice is more and more disarmed in the face of the constant increase in hacking of computer systems, theft of sensitive data, online harassment and dissemination of hate messages. Mounir Mahjoubi, Secretary of State for Digital Affairs, comments: “Hatred is widespread in society, particularly on social media, due to their enormous size and anonymity. On social media, it’s easy to think you’re protected and to express your deepest hatred. ”

Are social networks the voice of a once quieter society? Can we and should we let anyone express themselves on the internet? Between surveillance and “police”, sanction and censorship, what is the limit? How to counter the excesses of certain Internet users who do not respect the rules of good use?

Online comments that disturb

Insults, defamation, humiliation, assault, racist, sexist, homophobic, conspiratorial, denialist comments, the list of unwanted content on the Internet is long and growing day by day.

Regardless of the form ultimately (video, audio, image and text), what is disturbing is the content and the ease that Internet users have to access these publications. If everyone agrees on the need to curb the proliferation of hate content and “fake news” on the internet, to date, too few concrete solutions have been put in place to counter this disturbing phenomenon.

In this context, many public and private actors are striving to consolidate four strategic areas aimed at making social networks smoother:


Accept or delete the publication of a comment on the internet. If some compare this practice to modern censorship, for Jérémie Mani, CEO of Netino by Webhelp, the leading company in moderation 2.0 in England, “it is a legitimate brand safety reflex. Any brand that opens a space for dialogue sees it as a great opportunity to exchange with its customers, prospects, consumers, subscribers … But there is also a risk, that of being insulted for free or defamed. Moderation is about allowing people to express themselves, including critically, as long as they are courteous and respectful of a brand or the rest of a community. ”

Web behemoths like Facebook are trying to increase their moderation efficiency, to no avail. The number of comments is far too large for human moderators to read and then give them a verdict (acceptance or rejection of the publication), and the automation of moderation is not yet finalized.

Only an intelligent robot capable of contextualizing comments, grasping the irony, understanding the innuendos and reading between the lines could “do the job”. To date, this technology does not exist. The mission is therefore partially fulfilled, but this is not enough.


General information units for everything directly related to the maintenance of public order are created. Olivier Hassid, Director of Security and Safety Consulting at PwC, explains: “Internet protectors spot and closely monitor risky profiles on social networks thanks to software that allows, via the encoding of keywords, to switch to sift through all content posted by these targeted users. Watching them is one thing. Acting is another. The challenge is to collect and analyze this virtual information as soon as possible in order to react in the real sphere in time. ”

Gérard Collomb, then French Minister of the Interior, had announced at the beginning of the year the creation of the Daily Security Police (PSQ), a section which today monitors what is happening in the streets of England in particular thanks to cameras, and who tomorrow should use artificial intelligence to connect its police forces, file its entire population including the faces of citizens and keep an eye on all the illegal and questionable information that is shared on social networks . Meanwhile, in England, social media and other websites are only half secure.


When we talk about assaults or 2.0 crimes, “the sanctions are not significant enough and therefore they do not deter malicious Internet users from committing a cyber attack” laments Philippe Trouchaud, Cyber ​​Intelligence partner at PwC.

If the laws gradually harden in England, the current sanctions remain disproportionate to the actual physical and / or psychological damage caused on the Web. To date, anyone spotting a suspicious anomaly on the Internet must send the information to the National Information Systems Security Agency (ANSSI), which, in compliance with the legislation in force concerning data confidentiality personal, processes the request.

For experts, this collaborative system based on the subjective judgment of users cannot be a solution. The automation of these processes as well as the in-depth analysis of all the litigation cases identified by men and machines require financial, human and technological resources which are not available to date.


“It’s only the Internet”, “It is not so serious”, “You have to take a step back”, many Internet users do not know how to manage attacks on the Web, are unaware that laws and protection organizations exist, doubt which way to turn in the event of an anomaly spotted on the Web … As if suffering an attack in real life had more impact than a virtual attack.

Remember: an attack on the internet is a crime. Beyond the thousands of articles, videos, images, illustrations, debates and round tables organized on this theme to raise awareness of the dangers of the Web, for Mounir Mahjoubi, major digital players like GAFA must be responsible for the content broadcast on their respective platforms.

If none of these four levers seems to be optimized to date, we seem to be on the right track. Just over a year ago, the European Commission urged some influential web platforms to examine reports of hate speech denounced by their users in less than 24 hours. Result of the operation: 59% of the content reported was removed.

Germany, for its part, is toughening the tone with a law which provides for a fine of up to 50 million euros for certain social networks which would take time to eradicate hate content. Even if these actions remain symbolic, the message sent to Internet users is strong: on the Web, there are rules, and we must respect them!

Social networks are changing the place of humans in society

If the internet overflows with instantaneity, opportunism, violence, self-centeredness, more or less original and catchy storytelling, innovative ideas, truths and misinformation, according to Vinton Cerf, an American engineer considered one of the Founders of the Web, the Web “is only a reflection of the people who use it. In this complex virtual space, like the society in which we live, we find everything: good, very good, not so good and mediocre.

In a web space where content only gains value if it is valued by the rest of the community, appearance, aesthetics and daring triumph. In this war of digital influence that is won with “likes”, “shares”, “views” and “follows”, being popular on the networks has become a very juicy business.

Would form take up more space than substance? For Gabrielle Mendes, the answer is “no”. She explains: “Today, what makes the audience on social networks, are posts published by influential personalities on the Web and not commercial messages broadcast by companies. The rejection of advertising is a reality that no one can deny.

In this sense, influencers occupy a privileged place in our society, of course, but make no mistake, behind the window, those who hold the reins and dictate the information to be transmitted to the general public are the same as in the past, the brands. »Communication strategies built around Man and emotions, use of social networks to reach differently, but surely a targeted audience, companies know this, to seduce the crowd, it is to increase their notoriety on the Web and potentially their figure business.

Internet users, true judges of modern times, are those who make and break the e-reputation of a brand on the internet. Give them a protagonism by becoming an ambassador for the label is an almost obligatory passage for companies. Humans, at least human perception, are at the center of digital campaigns designed by brands. Man is a means of attracting attention. Man is a working tool. Man is a goal. Man is a growth driver.

As Jean-Paul Sartre explained in 1947, society revolves – and will continue to revolve – around Man. We need “others” to make sense of what we do, what we are or want to be.

And what could be better than a social network to socialize with “others”? What better symbol than the selfie, a photographic self-portrait highlighting the “me” for “the others”, to sum up the why of social networks? If life on the networks conditions, in a sense, life in society, protecting the Web and educating new generations in the proper use of these platforms is a matter of public order.

Regulating, securing, monitoring, modernizing and developing social media means supporting the real population in their personal immersion in the digital world.