The combined rise in market valuation of these three social media companies between March 2020 and January 2021 was $451 billion. The amount of debt incurred by the entire UK economy for the same period, that we'll all be paying for in taxes and service reductions for decades to come, is a similar figure. We don't know who's bought share ownership in these companies - but we can all have a guess.
The Internet is the best invention of my lifetime - but it's also given birth to social media, which is arguably the worst. When a company sits on the US Stock Market with a multi-billion dollar valuation, but it's free to join and use its platform, that's all you need to know. Nothing in this world is for free where the ownership of data is the new oil.
As a parent of children born at the turn of the millennium, I observed the birth of social media and how my generation was given a technology we didn't understand. On the face of it, social media looked like a useful tool for connecting with other people, but little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for. Our children have never lived in a world where they're truly free. They now live in one that's a nest of vipers and strips you of your personality. They're all now victims of a form of Stockholm syndrome, where they (along with many adults) are in denial of their addictive, controlling and abusive online relationships with social media. In this respect, they're no different to the many gamblers, alcoholics and junkies who'll never start the debate about how to defeat their conditions.
Selfishness, paranoia, aggression, unhappiness, addiction, insecurity, misery, anxiety, depression, anger, misinformation, untruth, manipulation, low self-esteem, bullying, loss of control, social pressure, negativity, procrastination, isolation, virtual reality, sexualisation, zombification and fake news are all words and phrases synonymous with social media.
But no political party seems to challenge this. As victims of 'algorithmic behaviour modification,' social media users are today constantly tracked and measured based on what they say, how they move, where they go and what they buy on the Internet. We're now in an era where an unknown third party will know when a teenage girl's period is due, which is scary stuff if you sit down and think about it.
As a result, our society is now connected in an extremely disconnected way, where social media brings out the worst in just about everyone. It gives what would normally be insignificant people a platform to be powerful and, particularly when they're anonymous, to degrade another person's character in any way they see fit.
Social media also controls our politics to the point of polarisation - and it's this we need to be aware of as political movements seek to do anything they can to hold onto their power using these destructive platforms.
Labour's social media accounts
Andy Burnham currently has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter (20,000 Tweets posted to date) and 9,000 Instagram fans. This means he and his team will be using these platforms to manipulate and persuade the voters of Manchester in the upcoming election. Like all politicians, Andy will prey on negative emotions and broadcast a superficially nice and carefully-targeted message to all his followers whilst, at the same time, being ruthlessly aggressive towards anyone who challenges him. This is a way of polarising people - and we've all seen what that's done to the USA, which is now on the brink of social and cultural revolution.
But the big question for Andy Burnham (and all his left wing leaning friends at organisations like Momentum) is: why are they using an American capitalist platform like Twitter, which has made a fortune during the pandemic but will be paying virtually no tax to the UK Government for the same period?
For this reason, and because of all the other problems social media causes with mental health, negativity and insincerity, I'm making a stand by having no accounts whatsoever. For the record, I'm not here to tell you to get off social media, but rather to make a stand (as someone who grew up in a society that was relatively free in terms of face to face conversations) against what I now see happening online.
Likewise with the gamblers, alcoholics and junkies, all I'll add here is that awareness of the social media problem is the first step towards freedom from the 'captor'.
David Icke ... an example of the social media world we live in
As a student in 1991, I remember watching David Icke being 'hauled over the coals' on the talk show Wogan, for the crime of being 'challenging, different and interesting'. Until around five years ago, he was frequently ridiculed in the mainstream press for his outlandish ideas and conspiracy theories, which have steadily gathered a sectarian following and sold millions of books over the years.
On 7th April 2020, Brian Rose, who's standing on the platform of free speech in the London mayoral election, had the most-watched live streamed interview ever, which was conducted at his Real London studio, taken down off all social media platforms because it challenged the official, worldwide government narrative on Covid-19. In 2021, David Icke, is now officially 'cancelled' by all mainstream social media platforms for the similar crime - or so it appears - of having a different opinion.
Whether you agree with Mr Icke or not, which I don't, is irrelevant here. There's a much more important question to be asked, which is:
Do we want to live in a society where critical and analytical thinking is forbidden?