Social Media companies manipulate user information

Poster+of+the+movie%2C+The+Social+Dilemma

filmaffinity.com

Poster of the movie, The Social Dilemma

Jamin Diaz, Staff Writer

When the first social media sites were being developed, no one thought of the consequences of building something so addictive. No one realized what an addictive system was being created. In the new Netflix docudrama, The Social Dilemma, the documentary reviews how social media grew, how it is used to exploit users for profit, the harmful consequences it has had on society and mental health, how it was made to be addictive, and why it allows conspiracy theories (such as pizzagate or the the Flat Earth) to gain a platform online. The film pivots between interviews and a dramatized story revolving around a social media-obsessed teen.

The film interviews a series of people including Tim Kendall, the former president of Pinterest, to Tristan Harris, a former worker at Google. The interviewees manage to explain what the problem is without it sounding too complex. I found the interviews much more interesting when compared to the dramatization story, which just came across as another adult’s perception of teenagers. The interviews didn’t sound scripted, making the interviews entertaining while also staying informative. At times, the film can sound a bit too dramatic. Earlier, it’s mentioned how the algorithm works in complicated ways, yet the algorithm of an unnamed app is represented as a group trying to attract its user. This doesn’t add anything to the story and makes it seem like the algorithm is the true problem rather than the companies that designed it.

Poster of the movie, The Social Dilemma (filmaffinity.com)

While they do explain the problem, the way the interviewees describe the issue gives off a sort of desperate feeling to it. It’s only until the end credits where a small segment is dedicated to sending a hopeful message. Nevertheless, The Social Dilemma, exposes the issues with social media in an engaging way, despite some of its overdramatized elements.