A Social Dilemma: The people vs. Facebook

The Social Dilemma, a documentary film created by Jeff Orlowski, was launched this September on Netflix. Causing incredible controversion as it has caught many people’s interest, including Facebook’s.

A month after the launch, the company finally released a public statement contradicting and criticizing The Social Dilemma film. Facebook felt the need to respond, since many people were disturbed and even thinking about deleting their social media accounts after watching the film.

The Dilemma

For those of you who have not watched the film, The Social Dilemma stars former employees of social media companies such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, explaining the dark side of social media.

The film explains how every single thing we do on social media, every click, every interaction is recorded and tracked to create a profile that allows these companies to get a better understanding of who we are.

The scariest part is that the documentary explains how these companies are manipulating our psychology, to influence our behavior and emotions without us even noticing. This makes us have less control over the decisions we make. That sounds crazy, right? An increase of depression and anxiety in teens has been proven to be directly related to social media platforms and features such as likes, comments, and filters.

The film also talks about how social media companies make efforts to keep us engaging in their platforms to the point where it becomes an addiction. This is possible thanks to features like notifications that Facebook sends when they detect a user is inactive. The reason? That’s an easy one. Turns out that the more a user is online, the more money they make.

Here’s the trailer, in case you missed it.

Facebook’s Response

Facebook has issued a public response stating from their point of view everything that is wrong with the documentary film. They argue that “The Social Dilemma” does not include insights or testimonies from current employees. They also claim that the film does not acknowledge the efforts and initiatives that the company has made to deal with the main issues discussed in the film, such as privacy and data mining.

Here are the 7 points on their statement about what the film missed:

1. “ADDICTION: Facebook builds its products to create value, not to be addictive.”

2. “YOU ARE NOT THE PRODUCT: Facebook is funded by advertising so that it remains free for people.”

3. “ALGORITHMS: Facebook’s algorithm is not ‘mad.’ It keeps the platform relevant and useful.”

4. “DATA: Facebook has made improvements across the company to protect people’s privacy.”

5. “POLARIZATION: We take steps to reduce content that could drive polarization.”

6. “ELECTIONS Facebook has made investments to protect the integrity of elections.”

7. “MISINFORMATION We fight fake news, misinformation, and harmful content using a global network of fact-checking partners.”

Some Final Thoughts

Facebook’s image, reputation, and credibility were affected by the film, as inevitable questions emerged about the ethics of these companies and how far they willing to go to make money.

I agree with some points on Facebook’s response, such as the fact that the film was all about the negative impact of social media. It also has good things, like being able to connect with people and keep in touch. However, many of the things the movie talks about are real and serious problems. It even gets to the point of being scary.

People are entitled to know how companies gather their data and how they use that data. There is definitely a lot that needs to improve on social media companies. First of all, there should be stronger regulations from governments about data collection and privacy. The most important thing is understanding what will happen with the data these companies have? and how will they use it in the future? In my opinion, this is just the beginning.

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