'The Social Dilemma': How Facebook and other apps are polarizing countries and destabilizing democracies
What 'The Social Dilemma' does is show us exactly how we are being manipulated -- and yes, that is the truth
We know that social media is bad for us -- what we don't know is the extent to which the applications designed to improve human connectivity are actually harmful to society. Netflix's latest documentary, 'The Social Dilemma', explains just that while featuring some of the most prominent names in the software industry who had noticed the serious lack of ethics that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more had.
Some of the prominent personalities features are a co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology and former Google employee, Tristan Harris, the "father of virtual reality", Jaron Lanier, and Justin Rosenstein, who co-invented the Like button on Facebook, to name a few. What these experts are sounding is alarming. We already know that our data is being collected and sold off to advertisers. But 'The Social Dilemma' shows us the worst of what happens with the sold data.
It is no wonder then that some of the doomsday scenarios that these engineers fear include civil war and the destruction of civilization -- a fate that can only be changed through a miracle that is the collective will, according to them. What 'The Social Dilemma' does is show us exactly how we are being manipulated -- and yes, that is the truth. These applications not only record the posts we are liking or sharing but even the time we spend looking at them, even if we do no action to record that. By recording each and every minimalistic pattern of human behavior of billions of users, companies like Facebook and Google are building accurate models of us to predict what to show us next -- all this is done to get them the best revenue for advertisers. Haven't you ever wondered whether your Instagram is listening to you when it shows you an ad on something you just talked about? We may just be joking about it, but from 'The Social Dilemma' it looks to be the stark reality.
Data has shown that teenage girls who self-harm and commit suicide have increased exponentially around 2011 -- around the time usage of social media exploded. Another dangerous outcome is that our individual curated newsfeeds are polarizing us even more. We learn from 'The Social Dilemma' that we are not an objective user -- based on your location and all the previous data collected from you (the posts you click on, the ones you like, the groups you spent more time in), your newsfeed is built to reinforce your already existing beliefs. This means that what you get when you google "Climate change is..." will be something that you already believe you know.
When you wonder why a group of people who have opposing beliefs does so when all the information is available on your newsfeed, it is because the same information is not available on theirs. Because of this, the gap between sections of society just keeps increasing -- if you've wondered why there is more polarization across the world, it is because of this. Polarization helps keep people online and therefore drive ad revenue.
'The Social Dilemma' is now streaming on Netflix.