Today's article will be a departure from my usual scientific fare, and is a copy of an article that I recently wrote for a futurist website that I also contribute to. This is more of an editorial than a scientific review, and some users may wish to skip over it.

This has been a bad week for Facebook. By now I suspect most people are aware of the latest scandal, in which the user data of tens of millions of users was harvested by a British company that then used the information to influence voters in elections in both the UK and the USA. And worse still, it would seem that most of the data was harvested by accessing the accounts of user's friends rather than a direct attack.

As a result, users have become even more concerned about the level and quality of Facebook security and privacy controls. This issue has arisen before, but this scandal seems to be the biggest and most troubling yet due to its usage in manipulating real world events. And because of this scandal, millions of users have started to delete their accounts and end their connection to Facebook permanently.

The question then becomes, what will replace it? Social media has become too ubiquitous in our society to eliminate completely, and many services ranging from restaurants to taxis to banking to household utility bills now depend on users connecting to their Facebook account. The potential downfall of Facebook will leave a vacuum in the internet that will need to be quickly filled by a successor - but who will fill the void, and how will they improve upon the social media platform?

In my opinion, the next big revolution in social media is going to be no social media company at all! With the loss of Facebook and users more than ever worried about the use of their private information, I do not see the masses ever again trusting any company with this much access to their personal lives. We may see another company fill the gap temporarily, but I think the ultimate goal will be an open standard that is owned by no one.

Those of us old enough to remember the rise of the web in the 1990s will remember when standardized markup languages came to be. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is open to all users who wish to construct a website, and all browsers were programmed to interpret it to produce the final website. It was followed by other languages, such as HTML5, Javascript, PHP, and XML. In each case website programmers can use the language to develop their own websites and apps, storing it on their own computer server (or a company provided server), and all internet browsers can interpret the script to form the final website that the user sees.

My prediction is that the next revolution in social media will be a Social Media Markup Language (SMML). Where HTML has tags that identify such things as the website title, photos, or a variety of small widgets and applications, I foresee SMML having tags to indicate such things as a newsfeed, or a friend list, or profile photos. The traditional features of social media platforms will be replaced with a standardized language that will offer the same features, but will also allow customization.

The each user will be able to maintain an account that suits their own needs. Tech companies will offer competitive packages that offer different levels of security and encryption. Advanced users can program their own versions of the social media apps that offer custom features and security. And then because the basic language has been standardized different SMML websites will be able to connect to each other, in the same way that HTML websites can link to and embed HTML code from other websites. And then no longer will social media giants such as Facebook or Twitter be able to dominate the markets with their monopolies. It will then be entirely up to individual users to control their own information and privacy.

So when will this happen? I honestly do not know. It could be brought in within the next few months if people remain afraid of Facebook and other media giants, or it might never happen if users quickly move on to the next fashionable fear. We just don't know.