The boss of a tech start-up backed by Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason has said social media can only be a force for good if tech giants tackle the nefarious activities taking place on their platforms.
Vinay Nair is co-founder and chief executive of London-based Lightful, which was set up to transform how charities and social enterprises interact with their supporters.
The ethical social media management platform has already attracted thousands of charities, individuals and ‘tech for good’ organisations and raised millions of pounds from investors including Mason, motorsport legend Dario Franchitti and renowned entrepreneurs Jeffrey Thomas and Annika Small.
Nair is passionate about reclaiming social media for good but says it’s crucial that a blind eye isn’t turned to the privacy concerns currently plaguing the sector.
“I am an unquestionable believer that social media can and should be a force for good, but it has to happen in the context of addressing these nefarious activities, rather than turning a blind eye and just focusing on the positive,” he told BusinessCloud.
Commenting on the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, which involved the personal data of millions of users shared without their consent, Nair stressed that it was absolutely vital that people have control over their own data.
“I think it’s very important that we’re asking the questions and seeking the answers around our own personal data and what’s being done with it across social networks,” he said.
“Trust is such a valuable commodity; it isn’t good that the underlying sentiment is so negative.”
Earlier this year Lightful had launched its own hashtag campaign – dubbed #ReclaimSocial – to reclaim social media for good. The movement trended on Twitter after it garnered over 19 million impressions.
“It was absolutely amazing,” Nair said. “It felt like we really captured a sentiment that exists and transcended the charity sector.
“Aside from all this negativity and ‘trolls’, we’re working with hundreds of organisations that have great stories to tell but are being drowned out by the noise.
“We decided to use this hashtag to galvanise more positivity on social media and highlight some of the amazing work that’s happening.”
It was exactly this frustration with negativity on social media that led Nair, along with his co-founders Carlos Miranda and Jonny Murnane, to set up Lightful.
“We were getting frustrated that it’s such an important sector doing highly impactful work but technology wasn’t really supporting it to achieve more impact or raise more awareness and funds,” he said.
At its heart, Lightful is a social media platform that connects “good people with great causes” but the start-up’s R&D division is also trialling technologies including AI, machine learning and voice recognition.
“We just want to make sure that the charity sector keeps an eye on how quickly things are advancing,” Nair said.