Social media, in our own Truman show, jeopardized our democracy (guest column)

9:43 AM PST 1/12/2021


Jeff orlowski

Netflix’s Dil Social Dlmma ‘filmmaker wrote that Big Social’s business is keeping people hooked on their platforms, and their algorithms feed us content that creates fear and resentment.

On January 6, the rioters shook the bats and shook the Confederate flag and shouted to the US Capitol, “Theft is real, the theft is real. They are not governed by our F-law. This is real. And their name is fake. “Those who saw themselves as warriors used to fix a rigid system,” Those who steal this election from us … hang from the rope here for treason “and the entrance to the Capitol Let’s “media kill” on one of them. Later, our current Speaker called them “very special” and some MPs said they were “patriots”.

How do we get here

For the last four years, in the making of our documentary Social dilemma, My team and I are studying how social media and search companies are affecting society. The techies we interviewed revealed that social media has been distorting reality for more than a decade. Their business is keeping people hooked on their platforms, and their algorithms have learned that the best way to do this is to feed us content that provokes fear and resentment. It doesn’t just change what we see and buy; It changes what we think, who we are and how we act.

In 1998 film the Truman Show, Jim Carrey played the star of the upcoming star of his own reality TV show. He lives in ignorance of the artificial universe – from the fake morning paper he “marries” to the actress – who has been fed into the literal bubble since he was born. He sees himself as a free agent, but in fact, his entire world is fake and controlled.

Today, 3.6 billion are all Truman on social media. While we feel that these platforms are connecting us to the world, they are actually separating us from reality. Each of us lives and learns inside an individual filter bubble that changes – and radicalizes – how we function in society.

The consequences can be horrific: Based on viral false information, a 28-year-old volunteer firefighter and father holds a pizza restaurant at gunpoint to protect imaginary children from tampering in an imaginary basement. Suburban Brits burn dozens of 5G towers because they are wrongly convinced that the technology is spreading coronavirus. A Midwestern pharmacist attempts to destroy 550 doses of life-saving vaccines.

As we learned from the mastermind and puppeteer of Truman’s curated life, “We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.” Its as simple as that.”

But we have seen and can no longer ignore the consequences of algorithm-induced extremism and polarization. Rashad Robinson, as the president of Color of Change, was the invasion of our nation’s capitol, keep this, “The culmination of years of dangerous algorithms.” Stop Hate for Profit reported in a statement that, “The seeds of hate have already been sown through countless tweets and posts and streams that have turned into a violent real-world reality.”

This was not an unforeseen event. This was a guaranteed result of social media. People were radicalized and instigated by their leader on social media with false information of electoral fraud, planned a violent mob on social media and then took off their extremist views that harm the real world. “[On Jan. 6] I saw what I’ve been hoping to see for the past several months, even years, “said Whitney Phillips, a researcher of misinformation at Syracuse University.

And social media companies cannot plead ignorance. An internal Facebook report leaked last summer acknowledges that their algorithms “exploit the fascination of the human brain for segmentation.” Facebook’s research found that 64 percent of all users joining an extremist group on the platform do so because of their own recommendation tools. The report stated, “Our recommendation system exacerbates the problem.”

“It’s because we have less and less control over who we are and what we really believe,” says Facebook co-inventor Justin Rosenstein. Social dilemma.

Experts and tech insiders interviewed by us in the film warned us about the terrible consequences of delivering Big Social Play God. When former director of Facebook’s demonetization, Tim Kendall, was asked in our film what he was most concerned about, he replied, “Civil War.” That seemed worrying at the time, but today it seems presentational. The events at the Capitol were not just terrible endings of the Trump era; They were a symptom of a social fabric teased by social media. And, banning Trump from Twitter and Facebook to incite violence, was long overdue, is hardly a solution. The problem is in the code, and she is not going away with Trump.

At the end of the Truman ShowThe protagonist faces a choice. He can accept the easy, false reality with which he is presented, or boldly choose the truth. We, too, are facing this dilemma. We can continue to exist in an enlightened, distorted, increasingly extreme and polarizing universe, or we can demand something better.

Our social media puppets also like it. Will they decently see their creation destroying democracy, or will they take responsibility to fix the filth filled with hatred by them?

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