I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. Much of the information presented I already knew – big tech mines all of our personal data and manipulates us to increase screen time in whichever way they can.

The movie itself has a story in-between the interview clips that help demonstrate the effects that social media (and cellphones) enable within a family. In one scene the son’s cellphone’s screen’s cracks and the mom says that she’ll replace it if he can not use his phone for a week, since, as he says “it’s no big deal”.

The algorithms notice his usage has changed, i.e. stopped, analyze that similar people in his area haven’t changed their usage and start a “reactivation” sequence, to suck him back in. To tempt him to open the app they find a recent event that will entice him back in and, like a drug addict, he’s back.

It reminds me of the seemingly random push notifications I get from instagram when I haven’t used the app in a few days. Nothing is random with social media, but it didn’t occur to me that they were trying to “reactivate” me and just how slimy that is. There’s no regard for the “user” – only their advertisers, which is their real user.

Most of all, watching The Social Dilemma makes me grateful for the indie web, communities like micro.blog, and apps like Sunlit that allow social media without algorithms without manipulation for advertisers, powered (more or less) by RSS and other open standards.

  1. We’ve seen the social dilemma. We know the FAANG + T silos are a threat to an open/healthy web. Question is: as techies, why the hell do we still participate?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *