Don’t be a victim of surveillance capitalism
”Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse” – Sophocles. That is how documentary The Social Dilemma Begins. The documentary is about the dark side of social media and how it is moving from being a useful tool to a manipulative cash machine. I watched it with a pinch of salt and tried to be objective about the subject but after watching the whole thing I felt physically ill and anxious. I think that every single one who is using social media should be aware of these things I’m going to tell you about in this essay. I also highly recommend to watch the whole document on Netflix.
If you are not paying for the product, then you are the product
In The Social Dilemma there are many old workers, designers and chiefs of social media companies sharing these secrets and bringing them to the daylight. Most of these people have since quit their jobs in these companies because of ethical and moral reasons. And don’t get me wrong all of these social media companies started out with their hearts in the right place. They were creating a tool for people to use to be more connected to people around the world. But at some point social media was no more being developed to the direction of a useful tool for the people. It was developed to be the best ”bang for your buck” marketing platform for companies. How does it accomplish this? By making it as addictive to use as possible. It is all designed so well you aren’t even aware of it. It all starts with notifications, ”Keijo mentioned you in a photo” have you ever wondered why can’t you just see the photo in the notifications? Because it is designed to intrigue you to open the app and move further. When you open the app there a punch of cleverly designed features to give you a shot of addictive dopamine, like the infinite scroll, the three dots when someone is typing to you, refreshing the feed in the excitement something new and interesting appears, the list goes on. These features all have one purpose. To keep you using these apps and not leaving so you can be offered as much ads as possible.
So why does social media marketing work so well. Because of the data. The data it has on you so it can advertise the ”right” product or service for you. “But Atte it doesn’t sound too bad that the ads that I get are targeted towards me”. But how about when the algorithm starts to subconsciously change your mind?
Terminator 3: Rise of the machines
Algorithms are AI’s that are programmed to achieve a goal. That goal in business is to make as much as money for the company and it’s shareholders. The creators of Algorithms don’t even know specifically how do they work. It’s like a machine you create and after that it starts to develop itself. Algorithms don’t have ethical or moral compass they are AI’s not human. So what happens when algorithm with no comprehension about good and evil with only one purpose – to get you by as much shit as possible – is set on the loose without a clear understanding about how it works. Algorithms are constantly monitoring your every click, like, comment, swipe, how much you spend looking at a photo or a video, your search history, basically everything you do while using social media. With this information it creates a profile about you. What do you like, what do you dislike. With this information it starts to offer you content that you may be interested about. If you like the content that it is offering you it will only continue to feed you that content. But while this goes on for a while it only starts to narrow down the content that you are interested in and by doing so your view of the world can narrow down subconsciously.
Polarization and the crisis of liberal democracy
Do you ever feel like you just can’t understands someones opinions or views about some subject? Social media is different for everyone and it plays a part in this polarization also because the view of the world the algorithm gives you can be totally different to what it gives to someone else. This is one of biggest reasons why in politics we can see a rise in the far left and right movements and a decline in the middle. This is why Liberal democracy is in danger. Targeted advertising was one of the biggest reasons Trump even won, lets be honest the man is not fit for leading a nation. Well Mr. Trump didn’t won the election with politics, he won because Cambridge Analytica data crisis. The marketing agency working for trump bought the Facebook user data from Cambridge Analytica. Which the agency used to target the audience that didn’t have a clear political view or a stand. So how did they do it? With out even knowing these poor future MAGA hat wearing people were fed content about how bad the democrats were and how good the republicans were. Fake news about how the democratic party was involved in different conspiracies working against the nation and the people for their own interests. So all the people seeing these fake news and propaganda believed it and ended up voting for Mr. Trump. And the best part is that the people were not fed with too much ”VOTE TRUMP” content, so they wouldn’t start to suspect anything and when they voted Trump they thought that they made the voting decision when actually they didn’t. It was all planned like a heist from Oceans Eleven.
The Social Dilemma. 2020. Netflix.