To an extent, I agree, but I think this may miss the forest for the trees. This model of both attracting ad revenue and collecting consumer data simultaneously by feeding into people's natural narcissism and relative isolation from each other is simply too powerful and profitable a platform to just die off like a consumer fad, at least not without a powerful change in the laws or culture at large. Social media platforms are like a license to not only print money, but to cultivate perfect consumers. The only real threat to the big players in the social media landscapes hasn't been waning relevance, but just comical amounts of bungling from the vain and eccentric "leadership" of its "genius" CEOs.
There's also the reality of evolution in terms of platform technology and design. Who remembers Myspace?
I signed up for Facebook after the production I was working on was suddenly shut down due to funding problems and a group formed on FB to inform us of progress rectifying the situation. Back then you could go several levels down into the interface and turn off much of the data collection options, which I did. You can't really do that now. That was 15 years back, and once we got up and running, I spent no more time there. If Facebook were to disappear it would be a huge boon. Instead, it's being relegated to an older population as new platforms become available.
The model for marketing people as commodities to businesses, selling an audience to advertisers, is a lot older. It's been the basis for every major broadcasting medium from radio to TV to now. It's the basis for this forum.
What is pretty awful is the way in which social media has succeeded insinuating itself into every aspect of human existence. A big part is its appeal is to narcissism, everyone is their own star and can share all their waking moments with an audience, but more to the point, is also its ability to sell ice cubes to eskimos. There's almost no effort to promoting all manner of made up stuff that is instantly uncritically believed by a gullible public that deludes itself on its level of critical thinking, common sense, and judgement. Every drooling horse's ass thinks he's Solomon. So do the other drooling horse's asses.
Would H. L Mencken be the least surprised? Maybe at just how right he was. Here's a prescient quote from September 18 1926, from one of his columns for the Baltimore Sun. Specifics included so that those of you who actually verify before accepting something as legitimate, can do that.
"No one in this world, so far as I know--and I have searched the records for years, and employed agents to help me--has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.
Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby. The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand, and even, in many cases, to read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads, and an appetite for more. This assumption is folly."
Boy is THAT the truth. And it's the basis for why social media is such a money maker for its owners. And it explains a lot about why things are as contentious and rotten as they are in a lot of areas. Riling up people makes them come back for more and that means making tons of money. What's more important than making tons of money?
P. T. Barnum put it more bluntly: There's a sucker born every minute.
Powerful money generating technologies have been rolled out and rolled over the great masses of plain people.