Years ago, when I still used Facebook a lot, I posted a really mean reply to a friend’s post. A real friend, too, not just a “Facebook friend.” The aftermath was ruinous. My friend forgave me, thank goodness, but I was so horrified at my gaffe that I purged my account, shedding thousands of friends. I stopped posting my own personal updates, mostly, too. The whole experience made me not trust myself with social media. I’ve had similar experiences on Twitter, where it’s easy to go off the rails and regret it later.
Everyone who uses social media has probably had an experience like this. You say something that you regret, which hurts someone you know or—worse—upsets a whole mess of people you don’t.
Rana el Kaliouby, the CEO of Affectiva, an artificial intelligence startup, has an idea that might help remedy that. What if when you posted something on Twitter or Instagram or another service, she suggested on a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, the platform gave you feedback? For example, “You upset 10,000 people right now.”