Author Topic: The Social Dilemma  (Read 574 times)

peter_speckhard

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The Social Dilemma
« on: October 25, 2020, 12:35:09 AM »
My daughter watched this new Netflix documentary called the Social Dilemma in three different classes in high school (Computer Science, Careers, and, I think, English), so I watched it yesterday. I thought it was quite good and recommend it highly as a conversation starter on the impact of big tech and social media on our society. It just so happened that I watched it soon after my post about CNN and Fox having news websites with zero overlap on the news of the day. This documentary (and yes, it seems designed for high school kids) features interviews with some major players in the development of social media concerning the algorithms they use and they ways they lead to polarization.

James_Gale

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2020, 09:39:48 AM »
My daughter watched this new Netflix documentary called the Social Dilemma in three different classes in high school (Computer Science, Careers, and, I think, English), so I watched it yesterday. I thought it was quite good and recommend it highly as a conversation starter on the impact of big tech and social media on our society. It just so happened that I watched it soon after my post about CNN and Fox having news websites with zero overlap on the news of the day. This documentary (and yes, it seems designed for high school kids) features interviews with some major players in the development of social media concerning the algorithms they use and they ways they lead to polarization.


I do think that people should watch this documentary.  It helps to explain why and how social media and other internet services contribute to the widening divisions within today's world.  In a nutshell, social-media platforms and some search engines (Google, notably) make money on the basis of clicks and how long people spend on their sites.  The each company has created an algorithm that determines how to keep a user on the company's site as long as possible.  In general, this means providing content that reinforces a person's pre-existing biases.  By contrast, content that challenges a person's biases tends to drive the person away.  Thus, people with different biases generally read entirely different content, which generally presents very different narratives and embraces disparate factual assumptions.  In general, as people spend more time in their siloed internet worlds, they are freed from ever having to consider contrary perspectives.  Their own biases are confirmed and groupthink tends to push their views toward the extreme.  And as that happens, the common basis for discussion shrinks.


Scholars have understood some of these dynamics for quite some time.  In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam noted that people in New England were bowling as many frames as they had for many years.  However, they now bowl far fewer frames as participants in leagues and far more with self-selected groups.  The result is less interaction among those with differing perspectives and life experiences.  Compromise and common ground have become harder to achieve as people's biases are rarely challenged and are constantly reinforced.


I agree with Pr. Speckhard that the documentary is written for an audience that includes young people.  However, I don't quite agree that it seems to be "designed for young people" to the exclusion of older folk.   

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2020, 11:03:28 AM »
It’s weird. A week or so ago, my son said to me “If FB just went away, most of the problems of this country would go away.” I told him how happy I’d been since I left and left for good. Real interactions are so, so much better. And not to be exposed to the latest outrage of the day? Priceless!!!
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James

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2020, 11:08:47 AM »
It’s weird. A week or so ago, my son said to me “If FB just went away, most of the problems of this country would go away.” I told him how happy I’d been since I left and left for good. Real interactions are so, so much better. And not to be exposed to the latest outrage of the day? Priceless!!!
Not to mention that Facebook/Twitter favor the progressive left as was sooo evident with the recent censoring to the NY Post article ... Freedom of the press and free speech remain under attack!
« Last Edit: October 25, 2020, 05:27:16 PM by Richard Johnson »
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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2020, 12:25:33 PM »
My daughter watched this new Netflix documentary called the Social Dilemma in three different classes in high school (Computer Science, Careers, and, I think, English), so I watched it yesterday. I thought it was quite good and recommend it highly as a conversation starter on the impact of big tech and social media on our society. It just so happened that I watched it soon after my post about CNN and Fox having news websites with zero overlap on the news of the day. This documentary (and yes, it seems designed for high school kids) features interviews with some major players in the development of social media concerning the algorithms they use and they ways they lead to polarization.
Any chance that this worthy documentary is available to those without Netflix access?

Surely if this documentary is used in a classroom setting it must be available to students without Netflix access ... unless a prerequisite for a public school education is Netflix access.

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2020, 05:28:58 PM »
I agree that it is a fascinating and worthwhile film to watch--though I think it does tend to get a little hysterical in places (as in the scenes that show sinister technologists spying on individual users and making decisions about what to "send" to their pages).
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

peter_speckhard

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2020, 05:37:55 PM »
I agree that it is a fascinating and worthwhile film to watch--though I think it does tend to get a little hysterical in places (as in the scenes that show sinister technologists spying on individual users and making decisions about what to "send" to their pages).
That was supposed to be sort of like the people manning the control panel of the brain in Inside Out, except these guys were the "brain" of the social media app.

Richard Johnson

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2020, 07:35:01 PM »
Yeah, I know. Somehow I find more appealing documentaries that don't mix "documentation" with "imagination." The popular "docudrama" usually isn't very effective either as documentary or drama.
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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2020, 09:53:00 PM »
https://www.projectveritas.com/ has a lot of videos discussing how various tech company employees are at liberty to monkey around with things. I skimmed one of them. They are onto something.

peter_speckhard

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2020, 10:02:00 PM »
The interesting thing is that the documentary is on Netflix, which is part of the Big Tech, Silicon Valley family. I think there is a propaganda layer to the whole project. I haven't seen any outrage or pushback from Google, Facebook and Company. I think they're positioning themselves as responsible in the good sense and willing to be part of the solution.

James

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2020, 01:08:46 AM »
The interesting thing is that the documentary is on Netflix, which is part of the Big Tech, Silicon Valley family. I think there is a propaganda layer to the whole project. I haven't seen any outrage or pushback from Google, Facebook and Company. I think they're positioning themselves as responsible in the good sense and willing to be part of the solution.
It’s rather surprising to see the comment “ I haven't seen any outrage or pushback from Google, Facebook and Company. I think they're positioning themselves as responsible in the good sense and willing to be part of the solution.“

Google appears more and more biased ... I’ll have to begin noting the searches made that tend to highlight progressives thought/positions ... a friend ridicules me for not using Duck Duck Go whenever I complain about results ... I’ll have to try it ... perhaps fewer ads  based on my searches.😷😶 and less progressive results.


Facebook remains suspect ... after the 2016 election, Zuckerburg discounted and refused the idea of corporate censorship ... but apparently he was taken to the woodshed and ‘enlightened’ by the progressives thought police ... Facebook may not be as upfront as Twitter, but Facebook has not passed the ‘trust but verify’ test by a long shot.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2020, 09:18:20 AM by James »
If necessary, there will be a peaceful transfer of power on Jan 20, 2021.

In the event election fraud is proven in the courts of our country, there will be an inauguration ceremony ... no transfer of power necessary.

Charles Austin

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2020, 04:28:20 AM »
Richard writes:
I agree that it is a fascinating and worthwhile film to watch--though I think it does tend to get a little hysterical in places (as in the scenes that show sinister technologists spying on individual users and making decisions about what to "send" to their pages).
I comment:
Beloved Spouse and I will see the film later, but I have read reviews and clips from it. My initial reaction tends to agree with the "a little hysterical" in Richard's comments.
Media, even newspapers, even Town Criers, have always had an effect - sometimes a controlling and governing effect - on the people reached with the messages. William Randolph Hearst, whose newspapers reached millions, used his papers that way in the 20th Century.
The real problem today may be two fold.
First, the social media engineers have a more intrusive, more insidious, more "programmable" tool than previous communicators. Social media can be engineered for particular audiences, sets of people or even individuals. That's why when I research flights to Vienna, I suddenly begin getting ads from Austrian Airlines.
The second problem is us. We have not learned how to evaluate incoming information, how to assess its source or intention. You could learn that if you read a Hearst newspaper, you were going to get a certain kind of "Americanism," and you had to buy the paper to get it. You didn't open your front door and find a pile of newspapers from right wing nutballs, leftist extremists, Christian movements and pharmaceutical vendors piled high, easy to read and invasive to the reading you would choose. You turned the radio on and picked a station.
Social media is invasive and we haven't even learned how to evaluate the media that is not invasive.
We need much more learning and discipline about where we go and what we do online.

Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Missing NY/NJ and trips to Europe. I despise Daylight Savings Time which serves no purpose, disrupts my quotidian body clock and (I am reliably told) severely troubles cows and other huggable farm animals.

peter_speckhard

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2020, 09:07:08 AM »
The interesting thing is that the documentary is on Netflix, which is part of the Big Tech, Silicon Valley family. I think there is a propaganda layer to the whole project. I haven't seen any outrage or pushback from Google, Facebook and Company. I think they're positioning themselves as responsible in the good sense and willing to be part of the solution.
It’s rather surprising to see the comment “ I haven't seen any outrage or pushback from Google, Facebook and Company. I think they're positioning themselves as responsible in the good sense and willing to be part of the solution.“

Google appears more and more biased ... I’ll have to begin noting the searches made that tend to highlight progressives thought/positions ... a friend ridicules me for not using Duck Duck Go whenever I complain about results ... I’ll have to try it ... perhaps fewer ads  based on my searches.😷😶 and less progressive results.


Facebook remains suspect ... after the 2016 election, Zuckerburg discounted and refused the idea of corporate censorship ... but apparently he was taken to the woodshed and ‘enlightened’ but the progressives thought police ... Facebook may not be as upfront as Twitter, but Facebook has not passed the ‘trust but verify’ test by a long shot.
Pushback against the documentary. They seem to have cooperated with it and are content to let it stand. Which tells me they're using it as part of a longer p.r. game.

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Re: The Social Dilemma
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2020, 06:04:06 PM »
The interesting thing is that the documentary is on Netflix, which is part of the Big Tech, Silicon Valley family. I think there is a propaganda layer to the whole project. I haven't seen any outrage or pushback from Google, Facebook and Company. I think they're positioning themselves as responsible in the good sense and willing to be part of the solution.
It’s rather surprising to see the comment “ I haven't seen any outrage or pushback from Google, Facebook and Company. I think they're positioning themselves as responsible in the good sense and willing to be part of the solution.“

Google appears more and more biased ... I’ll have to begin noting the searches made that tend to highlight progressives thought/positions ... a friend ridicules me for not using Duck Duck Go whenever I complain about results ... I’ll have to try it ... perhaps fewer ads  based on my searches.😷😶 and less progressive results.


Facebook remains suspect ... after the 2016 election, Zuckerburg discounted and refused the idea of corporate censorship ... but apparently he was taken to the woodshed and ‘enlightened’ but the progressives thought police ... Facebook may not be as upfront as Twitter, but Facebook has not passed the ‘trust but verify’ test by a long shot.
Pushback against the documentary. They seem to have cooperated with it and are content to let it stand. Which tells me they're using it as part of a longer p.r. game.

Well....Just in the third quarter:

Google spent more than $1.9 million in lobbying

Facebook spent $4.9 million

(https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/21/google-ramps-up-lobbying-facebook-outspends-peers-in-third-quarter.html?link_id=8&can_id=92f614bd99a4a09dd102f78026b3306a&source=email-3rd-quarter-lobbying-numbers-2&email_referrer=email_976716&email_subject=google-facebook-apple-and-amazon)

These companies were spending millions of dollars lobbying Congress at the same time their CEOs were called in for Congressional hearings and asked about antitrust, data privacy, and workers rights