It is undeniable: algorithms have been ruling our world for a while. You know it, I know it, we all know it. You feel their subtle influence ever so slightly when you’re using a social media or digital platform. You mention something to your friend, and suddenly, you get an ad for it. You start seeing the resemblance of the content on your explore page. You are in a bubble, one that is tailor-made for you. You may think you have free will, that you can curate your content, and have access to whatever you want to, but the reality of the situation is that you don’t.
Recently, The Social Dilemma came out on Netflix. The documentary from Jeff Orlowski walks us through the effects of privacy breaches, and how these are not bugs within social media, but more accurately “features.”
It’s not a flash news that social media is addictive and borderline creepy. That Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram are lurking, listening to us, collecting data. But what we now know makes us question our use of these platforms: they are, essentially, not selling our data, but in fact, selling us, our time, our attention.
Everything matters: from how long you linger on a post, to whatever you type into your social research engines. Instagram will show you the stories from the accounts you interact with more frequently, TikTok gives you a feed of videos that are “For You.” These algorithms don’t necessarily recognize these effects, and AI is doing exactly what it was meant to do – sway our opinion one click at a time. We are at a time where information is important, and where we get it from is more important, so watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix, and stop feeding the algorithm by clicking on the bait it gives you.
Photo via Exposure Lab/Netflix