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Social media scrutiny and the doco causing it

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

Attention continues to turn towards social platforms negative impacts, in large part inspired by one documentary.

For many of us still dealing with covid restrictions and in some parts, lockdown, we're still very much on our nation-wide, pandemic induced Netflix binge.

One of Netflix's cult doco's released this month was met with a huge viral response, with many people threatening to throw their phones away altogether after watching the documentary, The Social Dilemma.

The documentary touts an exposé on the behind the scenes of social media platforms and just how much they dictate the media and news we consume.

Many of us make references in our daily lives to our phones 'listening' to us - with targeted ads hitting our newsfeeds after conversing about specific products - and at times seeing ads for things before we even knew we wanted them.

However, the documentary illustrates that social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest go much further than just using our data for ads - to the point where social media has created further division in society, by only showing users the content that appeals to their own political beliefs, rather than giving them a holistic and real view of the world.

This sort of control gives cause for concern of how social media platforms are forming our idea of what truth is and manipulating our ability to make independently formed opinions.

The documentary makes a number of claims to the fact that the data you are served on social media is based on a multitude of complex algorithms and not just based on how we believed the content was served to us such as:

Content you engage with

Content from people you engage with

Content it believes you will enjoy

The Social Dilemma goes as far as to say it is a more sinister ploy to captivate audiences attention at all costs, employing a multitude of tactics to ensure the user does not lock their phone.

Forcing push notifications, manipulating the content you see, suppressing content that is not as profitable to the platform and numerous other tactics to make profit from the user in the form of ad views and data collection.

So how do we know how much of it is truth, and how much of it is scare tactics?

Well, as one would expect, Mark Zuckerburg, (likely needs know introduction) - CEO and Founder of Facebook was quick to dismiss the claims made.

Platforms are of course stepping in with tactics to address related claims:

- On World Suicide Prevention Day Facebook released a statement around the 'New Ways to Support the Community' including the removal of harmful content, wellness guides and crisis support over chat.

- Instagram celebrated their tenth birthday recently and used the occasion to publish new methods to mitigate bullying issues on the platform.

- Recently both Twitter and Facebook announced they would crack down on the growth of Qanon and related content - a baseless Trump conspiracy theory that has grown massively. But whether or not they will manage to, after mentioning this before, remains to be seen.

So, with many people joking they will now be sending memes via mail or email - will we notice a significant drop in how many people use social media in the coming months?

Let's wait and see.

Kitch Catterall


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