Why “The Social Dilemma” misunderstands social networks

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Netflix’s new documentary-drama, “The Social Dilemma,” has caused many social media users to abandon their accounts, but is unlikely to stand in the way of the tech giants it analyzes.

Since its premiere on the platform on September 9, “The Social Dilemma” has long been in the recommendations of the Top 10 most popular movies on Netflix.

The film was hailed as “probably the most lucid, concise and deeply terrifying analysis of social networks ever created” by Indiewire, but also criticized for being “manipulative and deceptive” by technical analyst Benedict Evans.

The Social Dilemma: to be or not to be technology?

The “social dilemma” explores how the most popular products on the Internet work on a basic business model of tracking user behavior to sell targeted ads and induce addiction in a vicious circle.

The film combines interviews with technology experts, including many former employees of the Silicon Valley giants, and dramatic scenarios that illustrate the negative effects of social media on ordinary Americans.

Among the many aspects that the film addresses are how technology companies have influenced choices, ethnic violence, and rates of depression and suicide.

Interviews with employees are the most interesting part, as they explain how their companies have developed a technology that handles the human psyche so effectively and then express their regrets about what they have unleashed.

Their warnings are terrible. In the film, former Facebook executive Tim Kendall says the biggest short-term concern is the “civil war,” while technology pioneer Jaron Lanier warns: “If we maintain the status quo for, say, another 20 for years, we are probably destroying our civilization through deliberate ignorance. ”

What can you do to get out of the dilemma?

Despite confessions and condemnation, however, the final recommendations to regular users of these technology products are disappointingly non-original.

These self-help suggestions include: turn off notifications; uninstall time-wasting applications; check the facts before sharing sources; and follow people with different points of view than you.

Perhaps the most ironic piece of advice is the one that urges us not to follow what the recommendation algorithms suggest, but probably for The Social Dilemma itself, this should be excepted when the Netflix algorithm suggests you watch it. How else, isn’t it?

The cleavage of opinions, the mark of the film’s failure to convey its message?

Although the concern is justified and security measures should be taken, large technology companies are unlikely to take films such as “The Social Dilemma” as an existential threat.

Facebook, a frequent target of criticism on social networks, also recorded audience and revenue records this year. The boycotts of advertisers triggered by dissatisfaction with the company’s hate speech policies did not have a serious impact, as Mark Zuckerberg successfully predicted.

The “social dilemma” ends with interviewees urging viewers to “change the conversation” around technology.

It is more than a little ironic that a film that constantly warns about platforms that use misinformation to store fear and outrage seems to exist only to arouse fear and outrage, while promoting a distorted picture of how those platforms work.


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