There are now two worlds on social media. There's the ad driven model of Facebook and, on a smaller, for the time being, less opaque scale, Twitter. Then there's the money exchanging hands model of eBay, which presumably is something like a peer-to-peer relationship.
Those two models -- or something like them -- should perhaps not be separate. Presumably a social media model needs to make money. I'd like a way around that -- could the whole thing be nationalized, or be funded via some mechanism through the government* -- I don't know, but let's put that aside. The ad driven model incentivizes the platform to show you stuff to buy that is pushed by people who give the platform money. That's is quite likely corrupting.
The beauty and potential of social media is the human connections to be made: I don't want to be told what movie to see by Facebook because Sony gave them money to promote some piece of crap -- I want intelligent software that tells me what people who I think are interesting are watching and reading. I want social media to point me to friends and friends of friends who have gone through a problem that I'm going through because they might help me solve it. I want recommendations from "friends" and others I think are thoughtful about fascinating things to do and see and use. And I'll spend some of my hard earned, modest some of money on those things. And I don't mind if the platform takes say one percent from the money I spend on those things it shows to me, just like eBay takes a cut when you buy stuff from someone using it.
Some have suggested having social media you have to pay to simply use. That seems onerous to me. There are lots of poor people and other people who would never pay and they can't be left out. But if a mechanism can be found that gets people connected to things they are willing to spend money on that compensates the platform for that connection, then you have a platform that is self sustaining that serves the needs of the people using it.
Of course, that has some level of danger -- things could devolve into a way that incentivizes the platform to have relationships that simply involve the exchange of funds -- making people into Amway sales people. There are dangers here too, but such a platform could be preferable to an ad based one using a totally secret system for showing you largely what it wants to show you. Such a structure would, in part, in effect de-segregate our economic from our social life and if done intelligently and ethically, could be a great positive step.
* -- See media scholar Robert W. McChesney essay "Sharp Left Turn for the Media Reform Movement," which gives some critical historical perspective and adopts economist Dean Baker's "The Artistic Freedom Voucher: Internet Age Alternative to Copyrights" -- in effect a mechanism whereby people vote to where funds should go for cultural work.