In the context of social networks to date, as popularized by Facebook from 2007, the social graph exists to render users legible to the system. The social graph is not yours nor mine but the system’s, irrespective of whether that system is proprietary or non-proprietary, centralized or decentralized.
The social graph’s role is transformed in the absence of alternative graphs or stories. It begins as nothing more than an imperfect description of a rich and diverse human network but is soon confused for the truth.
The system wields the graph to tell you what’s important, what’s trending. We are nothing more to the system or then to each other than a weak signal. We no longer constitute a “we”. It atomizes us and demarcates us for the purposes encoded in its architectures and algorithms.
- Sheldrake, P. (2022). We need to talk about the social graph. The AKASHA Foundation.