A review of our predictions for 2023

9 minutes
A review of our predictions for 2023

Last January, we presented our predictions for 2023. At the time, ChatGPT was a little over a month old and was awe-inspiring, X was just one letter and Threads wasn't on anyone's radar. With that backdrop we launched our own futurology exercise. One year later, here is the balance of our successes and failures.

What we said: "Twitter's problems continue".

The prediction was, to say the least, conservative. A few weeks after the purchase of Twitter, Musk's level of improvisation at the helm of the company -which had already dramatically reduced its payroll and had suffered global falls- made it possible to say without much room for error that the platform would be in the public eye and that the press would scrutinize its mistakes.

What happened: a piggyback X

It would take a long time to recount the changes at Twitter -today X- that have caused it problems in the last year. However, a single episode condenses many of them: the war between Israel and Hamas. The explosion of problematic online content, threats and fake news in the wake of conversations about the situation in the Middle East have made visible the company's failures to handle critical events.

On the one hand, changes to the verification system, which now relies on a subscription to the X Premium service, have given greater reach and apparent legitimacy to disseminators of disinformation on the platform. On the other hand, changes to content policies, the downsizing of the company's security and trust teams, and the very vision of the new owner have deteriorated the quality of the discussion on X.

Musk has decided to respond to the various studies that point this out with legal threats. However, in light of the European Union's Digital Services Act, which came into force in August of this year, X's inaction in the face of problematic content could result in harsh penalties for the company.

This is suggested by the announcement of the opening of a formal investigation by the European Commission for apparent breaches of X's regulations related to content moderation, risk assessment and transparency, among others. In addition, the company closes the year with an additional open front: a boycott by advertisers -its largest source of revenue-, who stopped spending on the platform after Musk's support for an anti-Semitic publication.

What we said: "Twitter's replacement".

Musk's decisions during the first weeks at Twitter provoked a first wave of migration to alternative platforms. Mastodon had been the port of arrival for many users who fled early on, but interest waned. Based on information from the New York Times, we sponsored that Meta would enter the competition, either with new Instagram features or with "a new text-based social network".

What happened: Threads, a thin thread

Twitter's line of succession included Mastodon, Bluesky and other decentralized and alternative networks. Today, however, it is Meta that is winning the competition, at least in terms of growth. Just five days after its launch, the platform reached 100 million registered users, who landed directly from Instagram.

Despite this, the platform does not yet have the news and debate character that has characterized X for so many years. Relevant events this year, such as the presidential elections held in Latin America or the conflict in the Middle East, did not awaken in Threads the idea of digital public sphere that would be expected for a replacement of X.

It is possible that in the United States the platform could begin to cover this type of discussions. However, such a scenario still seems distant for Latin America, where some governments have X as their main dissemination channel and where the political agenda moves to some extent through this platform.

What we said: ChatGPT, the debate of the year

With the attention that the launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022 had garnered, we assured that the new year would come with demands for transparency and content moderation for AI companies.

What happened: regulations in sight

Indeed, the rise of AI came with the first calls for regulation. In late March, a public letter signed by hundreds of academics, philosophers and senior Silicon Valley executives - including Elon Musk - called for a six-month pause in the training of new models to assess the impact of these technologies and work hand in hand with the authorities to reach agreement on an appropriate regulatory framework.

The letter, as it turned out, had little effect, but the calls for new rules continued and were even voiced by the industry's most visible faces. In May, during a hearing in front of the U.S. Congress, Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, alerted congressmen to the risks of AI and asked them to regulate their sector.

However, the measures did not come from Congress, but directly from the government. At the end of October, Joe Biden issued an executive order for AI companies to hand over information on their vulnerabilities, the use of data to train their models and to develop security standards prior to the launch of new products, among others.

For their part, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament reached a preliminary agreement on the Artificial Intelligence Act that has been under discussion since 2021. With a few further steps to be taken, the text is close to becoming, in the words of the Council, a "flagship regulation with the potential to foster development and take steps towards safe and trusted AI".

Although it has not yet entered into force, its foundations have inspired regulatory initiatives that have already begun to be discussed in countries such as Brazil and Chile. In any case, as has happened with projects to regulate the activity of social networking companies, still under discussion, laws for AI may take time to become a reality.

What we said: "There will be new rules for content moderation and online work in Colombia".

In late 2023, Colombia's Constitutional Court held a technical hearing to hear the opinions of members of civil society, jurists and academics on the case of actress Esperanza Gómez, who sued Meta for unjustly suspending her Instagram account. The case promised an in-depth analysis of the work of influencers and the powers of companies to remove content, delete accounts and offer appeal channels.

What happened: justice limps...

The year passed without a decision on the merits. After Meta Platforms Inc. had filed an appeal for not having been involved from the beginning of the process, the Court declared the nullity of everything that had been done up to then, except for the evidence collected. The file returned to its court of origin in Cali to start again. The judicial twist delayed the process, which is now back in the hands of the Court.

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