Social networks offer utopia and dystopia, with such a powerful impact on people’s lives that they influence free will and can change a generation. Today, the world’s richest corporations monitor and manipulate digital lives with obscure and Machiavellian tricks. The revelation of the truth questions these values.
Jeff Orlowski’s Netflix documentary “Social Media Dilemma” shows the damage done by companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter through their social media platforms and search engines. The testimonies of former strategic employees of the tech giants make it clear that the malignancy of social media platforms is a resource, not a bug. They fear the effects of their creations on the mental health of billions of users.
The interface of a social network is addictive, just like a drug. Users become dependent without knowing that behind the development of the platform there is constant surveillance, capable of manipulating each person’s unconscious. Thousands of professionals such as scientists, engineers, designers and psychologists precisely orient the gear to achieve this goal, make a profit and move the gear.
The business model of these companies is based on collecting data from users and obtaining money from them. The user pays for the use of these platforms with their information and interactivity. That is, the selling product is you and the advertisers are the customers.
However, it is terrifying to know that social networks create user avatars to make projections of their actions, with almost 90% accuracy. Avatars are like a collection of hypnotized zombie consumers, doomed to consume products tailored to them. The algorithms are designed to get our attention and make us buy things, including distorted ideas about the world, ourselves and each other.
The data clearly shows an increase in anxiety, depression and suicide coincides with the increase in the use of social media on cell phones, especially among adolescents. The film also cites the growing spread of disinformation, the radicalization of extremists in the Middle East and white supremacy in the United States, political polarization and the use by authoritarian regimes in countries like Myanmar and the Philippines, as examples where these platforms have failed.
Mcdonalds sold sandwiches freely until the 1990s. The yellow and red colors used in snack bars to increase appetite and persuade people into addiction. Children were targeted for consumption by the sales association with the toys included in the Happy Meal. However, society found that the fast food chain triggered diseases such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) took action on the issue and McDonalds started selling healthier products with nutritional information.
The same happens with social networks that envision a new form of capitalism at any cost. They are colossal corporations that act without any regulation or information about the functioning of their assembly line. They are giants freely administering toxic applications, putting people’s lives at risk.
There is an urgent need for stricter regulatory measures to unveil this black box and protect consumers. The change will come with the collective will. History shows that when people wake up, change is fast. And we are waking up in order to correct this modern era.