The social dilemma (Netflix) — Must watch for every single person who uses social media

The Social Dilemma is a new documentary released via Netflix on September 9th, in which former employees of tech giants such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc expose the dark side of the social media application.

Every time I use Instagram, I just click on the search button and I magically get glued to the infinite stream of random posts and videos. Being an IT guy I am amazed by their AI/ML algorithm which shows me exactly what I want to see and makes me forgetful about the things that are actually happening around me in the real world. But I never really contemplated why they do it. Well, this documentary answers why social media tries to keep us engaged and what they get out of it. You might have come across this famous quote “If you’re not paying for the product then you’re the product”, this documentary precisely explains how we are being used as products.

Social media apps

Truth is that internet companies collect all our data without our awareness and they use it to manipulate our own actions. And if you are thinking that you can stop them from stealing our data by uninstalling all the social media applications, then you are wrong, they will still get to know where you are going, what’s your dinner plan, etc by looking into the day to day essential apps that we use such as Gmail, Google maps, Uber, Swiggy, etc. Personally, I don’t think there is any escape from this at this point in time or in near future.

The documentary explains how human psychology and persuasive technologies are used by these tech giants to manipulate every single person's actions in their daily life, and what it takes for a social media company to do it. Keeping a couple engaged in the chat isn’t as easy as we think, lots of studies and analysis have been done to come up with an algorithm which doesn’t spare any couple. It also talks about the impact of social media on mental health, how it helps in spreading propaganda and triggering violence, how fake news about coronavirus was spread across the world etc. Along with the discussion with techies, it contains a few dramatized footage demonstrating how social media is impacting kids and their families. I do agree with the part that no one really intended to do all these when social media was invented, its just the adverse effect taking over the advantages.

The only negative that I felt about this doc is, it's 90 mins long which could have been limited to 60 mins.

The greatest irony is that Netflix used its artificial intelligence algorithm to recommend this show to me and influenced me to watch it. And if you have read this post till this point then I have engaged you for a few minutes using a product from Google and I might also be playing a role in influencing you to watch this documentary.

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Bangalore based software engineer and author of