A new Netflix documentary paints a disturbing picture of how addicted people are to social media and how these networks have taken advantage of it, prompting technology companies to become global powers behind the process.
"Social Dilemma" explores different aspects and impacts of the online world, including the economy based on user interests, addictive recommendation algorithms, disinformation, political polarization and more.
Writer Katie Kanells published an article on the businessinsider site, explaining excerpts from the film in which a number of technology experts and makers of these algorithms spoke.
The film features an expert on design ethics at Google, head of the Humanitarian Technology Center Tristan Harris, computer scientist Jaron Lanier, author Shoshana Zuboff, former director of Facebook, data scientist and author Cathy O'Neill, and former Facebook engineering leader. Justin Rosenstein, investor Roger McNamee, and many more.
Fear and pessimism enter the same scenes while watching the movie, but during the last five minutes it begins to break down as industry experts and hand out steps you can take to reduce your addiction to the phone and the technology you live in.
First tip: Don't click on your recommended videos or posts
Recommendation algorithms have become a kind of secret sauce for technology platforms, as they ensure that users continue to interact with applications, and they collect a long list of relevant content when they finish reading a post or watching a video.
For example, the recommendation algorithm of TikTok - the popular video sharing app - is the basis for the popular app, which has attracted millions of young users.
Instead of letting the algorithms guide you, it's better to search for the next video you want to watch, said author and computer scientist Jaron Lanier, who has been known as the founding father of virtual reality.
"You always choose what you want to watch ... that's another way to fight," Lanier said in the documentary.
And advises Glium Chaslot, engineer, "former YouTube" (YouTube) to install an extension for "Chrome" (Chrome), which can block recommendations for many systems and platforms.
Second tip: Don't use Google
Chaslotte says he uses the "Qwant" search engine because it "does not store search history", a French web search engine launched in July 2013 and operating from Paris.
Q & You are one of the few search engines in the European Union that claim to not track the user or customize search results.
"Q You" is a French web search engine launched in 2013 and operating from Paris (networking sites)
Third tip: Do not share content prior to verification
Renée Derista, director of research at Stanford Internet Observatory, said that if something appears to be trying to "pressure your emotions, it is likely to be," so you shouldn't be tempted by your emotions, that's what algorithms seek.
This advice may be of great significance in the run-up to the upcoming 2020 presidential election, as tech companies scramble to curb disinformation on their platforms.
Before sharing a piece of online content, "Check the facts, consider the source, and take these extra steps."
Fourth tip: Don't click on (clickbait).
Clickbait is a form of false advertising, consisting of a link designed to attract attention and entice users to follow it and read, view or listen to the associated portion of online content, with the promise of certain features that are usually exciting or misleading.
It has forced news publishers to adapt the algorithms of these tech platforms, changing the types of stories they post based on what attracts users' attention online.
Some experts say social media has exacerbated political polarization, another negative side effect of tech platforms, according to the documentary.
Another school of thought says that although social media can be polarizing, it is not the only one to blame. US policy has already been polarizing, as Casey Newton of The Verge reports.
A 2018 study provided evidence that following those who hold opposing views on the Internet can actually increase political polarization, although the study has several limitations.
Jaron Lanier is an author and computer scientist known as the founding father of virtual reality (networking sites)
Fifth tip: Don't let your kids use social media
Many of the techies featured in the documentary stick to this rule.
Alex Rutter, senior vice president of engineering at Twitter, said his kids don't use social media at all.
Tim Kendall, the former director at Facebook, said he insisted, "We don't let our kids spend any time in front of the screen."
While Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist and author at New York University, said that if you're going to let your kids sign up on social media, wait until high school.
"Middle school is tough enough," he said on the show.
Tip 6: Leave all of your devices out of the bedroom at a specific time every night
Haidt offered this advice as a way for families to set limits on phone use at home, suggesting that at a specific time - perhaps half an hour before bed - you should leave your phone somewhere else in your home.
According to the technologists and experts in the movie "Social Dilemma", these are just tips to reduce your phone usage, social media apps, and technology that are addictive, but there are a whole bunch of factors that will need to work side by side before we see any real change, and one of these factors is the great public pressure. And the desire within technology companies for reform.