At the end of last year, I made rash and in some cases tongue-in-cheek predictions for 2018 (Trump gone by Christmas is still an outside possibility).

One prediction was a decline in people using Facebook. On that count, I feel vindicated. Anecdotally, I'm getting the message people are using Facebook less, even if they're still on it. There's not the same feeding friend-frenzy there was five years ago.

And teenagers, according to a recent American study, aren't using Facebook nearly as much as older generations. Only 51 per cent of those aged 13 to 17.

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Declining user time will be known by Facebook, explaining their panicky attempts to keep people interested, through new services like Facebook Watch (to rival YouTube) and a dating App.

This won't stop the ongoing dialogue about privacy concerns, their use of the latest neuroscience to keep us hooked, or the link between high social media use and depression.

Piling on top of all the bad press, are concerns that social media, and Facebook in particular, is a threat to an informed citizenry that underpins our idea of democracy.
The argument is that you can't be politically informed if you silo yourself in a Facebook group of like-minded racists who believe Obama is the anti-Christ.

On the other side of the political spectrum, not everyone in the world is up to date with the number of letters that should or shouldn't be included in the LGBT+ list. If you don't know what I'm talking about, it proves my point.

The polarisation of opinion and spread of fake news has led to renewed calls for media responsibility. Perhaps, it's argued, only a government-funded but independently run media can deliver evenhandedness and be a positive force for democracy.

We have a national radio station that runs on these principles. It's just that nobody under 30, and not that many people over 30 listen to Radio New Zealand. It's not the medium of the moment.

Which is why I find the proposal of Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader in the United Kingdom, interesting. He's talking about publicly-run social media.

Our local councils are already experimenting with Neighbourly.com as a way of communicating relevant information and fostering grassroots initiatives, from food markets to exchanging goods and services.

For a national platform to work, however, it would need most of the population logged in. One way to achieve this would be to link this hypothetical publicly-owned social media to voting in national and local body elections.

To vote, you must be registered on this platform; it's also where you vote. And here's the killer, you lower the voting age to 16 and you make voting part of the education of our young people. Make it a thing in the classroom, guide our young people through the process and some of the issues, and you might have a passionate voter for life.

This idea could go some way towards solving two problems, the level of uninformed debate about important issues and falling voter turnouts.

Who knows what it might look like exactly, but investigating the viability of a national social media platform makes more sense than an old-school publicly run television channel that few would watch.

■ Vaughan Gunson is a writer and poet interested in social justice and big issues facing the planet.