The Social Dilemma: The Dark Side of Social Media

The Social Dilemma reveals an ugly truth about social media, which shows how the users are used as a commodity.

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Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam and Ashutosh Bharadwaj

Netflix’s documentary The Social Dilemma laid bare an ugly truth about social media where former employees of major social media firms talk about how the corporations used the data of their users to drive ads that best suit their needs, or to put it simply, we, the users, are being sold to advertisers as a commodity.

This transaction has become so widespread and prevalent that one can even argue that these corporations have become stronger than governments.

The key factor on which these corporations function is the ‘Attention Economy’, where they customise your feed to maximise your screen time, using your data to give you the type of content that you would enjoy most, and subtly plugging ads in between.

It is through this data that they can predict what content you would consume next, along with the kind of ads that you might like, thereby creating a market for the same to sell to an advertiser. 

Online content consumption in today’s day and age has become an addiction where we find it increasingly difficult to not scroll through our feed. It is this vicious circle of optimised content fueling addiction and, therefore, creating a market for advertisers while the corporations monetise our data – on which platforms like Facebook, Instagram and others readily operate.

This addiction has had adverse effects across the globe – there has been a sharp rise in self-harm, teenage suicides and fake news. Some users also use the platforms to spread hate, as witnessed in many instances across India over the recent years.

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