The Covid-19 pandemic has made us spend more time than ever before on the internet and there is a growing sense that 2022 will be focused on the growing consequences of our now digitalized lifestyle. Following a series of reports published by the Wall Street Journal on the extent of Facebook’s research into the negative impacts its image-sharing platform, Instagram had on the mental health and body of young and impressionable users, especially on teenage girls, the last 12 months have highlighted how Big Tech cannot be trusted to safeguard its young and vulnerable users.
The global backlash following the release of the report led Instagram to “pause” efforts at developing a version of its application for children under the age of 13 in September. It is however anticipated that the firm will restart work this year following several consultations with parents and child safety experts.
Additionally, the growing amount of time spent on the internet has led to the introduction of new tech concepts such as Non-Fungible Token which enjoyed a remarkable year in 2021, and it is expected that the craze around NFTs will only increase in 2022 after popular auction house Sotheby’s enjoyed a record-breaking year of sales such as the sale of Beeple’s digital artwork Everydays- The First 5000 Days for a ground-breaking $69 million in March. Also, Facebook rebranded as Meta in another push to bring the concept of the metaverse, a network of digital spaces, into popular consciousness.
All these will see an increased online presence in the coming years, and despite the best efforts of big tech firms, people will have more reasons to be online as much as they have to log out of the internet. Efforts at regulations have led to the introduction of the world’s first internet safety laws known as the Online Safety Bill by the UK parliament, and it is focused on holding Big Tech companies responsible for whatever takes place on their platforms. This is particularly important given that the tech space has largely remained unregulated and this has led to increased social vices such as racism, online abuses, and bullying.