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24 Comments

The Social Dilemma

  1. 7

    I'm going to watch it this week, I'll add notes here.

    Any one want to join in?

    1. 4

      I'm in.

      I personally participate in almost no social media, but I'm definitely interested because I'm sure my kids are going to face these issues, especially as they get older.

      The themes here are a general problem with technology. The obvious example is that mobile phones are essential, powerful tools, yet can be very addictive.

      But I also find the following sites to be dilemmas:

      • YouTube has some amazing knowledge and information, and is often the video hosting solution used by businesses. It is also a cesspool of time-wasting, immature, stupid, garbage content.
      • Reddit has some very useful and informative articles – after StackOverflow, it's probably the next most useful site for coding knowledge. And it's also full of time-wasters, garbage, porn, vitriol, etc.
      • Imgur's main feed a huge time-waster, but it's also the de facto image sharing solution for many people – I personally use it to post images on IH.

      The problem with these mixed content sites is that they are also valuable for work. So if I put them into a website blocker to remove distractions, doing so also removes useful information.

      My solution for now is to use Freedom to block these sites from morning until late afternoon. If my work requires the use of these sites, then I have to wait until 4pm. It's an inconvenient solution, but better than wasting work hours being distracted. (Case-in-point: I can't watch the Social Dilemma trailer right now because it's on YouTube which I'm currently blocking).

      Sorry for the rant, it's something that been bothering me for a while. And as a parent, I'm very concerned about how this will affect them as they get older.

      1. 1

        So true. For me, Removing them (mixed content platforms) from phone and using only from laptop helped reduce time wasting behavior. Also, we can do some planning tweak usage only for work/information consumption. For e.g, 'df tube' chrome plugin helps with watching what we want alone in youtube without distractions

      2. 1

        Very on point about Imgur. I also keep my FB account to run ads and participate in B2B fb group.

        Every time I think about deleting those social network accounts, I remember how useful they are in certain work related use cases. 🤦‍♂️

        1. 2

          Yes, I forgot about FB ads. I never use Facebook but I haven’t closed my account in case I need to run ads.

    2. 1

      I'd rewatch it with the community!

      1. 1

        Any clever ideas to watch it together? I find it hard to get people to do things at the same time.

  2. 5

    I thought it was a great documentary. I personally didn't learn much new stuff that surprised me but the fact that it is a documentary that Netflix pushes hard (I learned about it as it was on the top of my Netflix screen when I logged in last night) and that it is so well done, I hope will mean that more non-techy people will learn about some of the issues with social media and surveillance capitalism. We need more people to be aware and take some action to make a change.

    Documentary is basically about a handful of early employees from Google and Facebook, people that invented things such as the like button and the YouTube algorithm, telling the behind the scenes stories about the ideas and motivations behind these features and why they all by now have quit the companies they worked for and have even blocked their apps as much as possible from their own lives and their families etc. Some are now even working on solutions that are fighting against the companies they spent years working for.

    Very useful and eyeopening information in general and something a person who uses these products (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube...) should be aware of in order to "function" better in our society: to be better informed, to be more productive and to get a bit more out the time we have rather than spend all the hours being addicted to and manipulated by these few companies who do it in order to make more money out of our attention.

    I do think it is a bit ironic that the official site of the movie has an illegal GDPR implementation with a dark pattern to accept Google tracking for analytics and ads but I assume it's not the same people that made the movie that also made the site as they don't seem to have the same principles.

  3. 3

    Reading PG's The Acceleration of Addictiveness Cal Newport's Deep Work and then Digital Minimalism had a pretty profound impact on me.

    I used to waste untold amounts of time on social networks, but now I've entirely stopped using Facebook and LinkedIn, and I only occasionally use Reddit, HN or Twitter—all of which are useful for my business. IH is probably the last social networking site I use that has little impact on my work.

    There's so much time freed up by doing the above that I'm now able to read nearly as many books as I was back when repetitive stress injuries nearly prevented me from using a computer without voice input!

  4. 2

    Just finished watching it this morning. SO scary, yet SO good.

    I would consider myself decently aware of how this works and I'm trying to make conscious decisions, but yet I find myself getting stuck wasting time on Instagram or reading through threads of comments on facebook. What is even scarier to think about is how many people who are Not even slightly aware of the "problem" are using the platforms. I can just look at my parents who would fall victim for anything they get served online.

    Personally, I think the responsibility lies on the governments to legislate how the platforms are allowed to operate. As they mention in the documentary, phone companies have loads of data on us but are not allowed to use it in many ways due to the law. But the laws and regulations for digital products, data collection (except now with GDPR) etc are very... weak. If no one push the platforms to change, why would they when their current business model is making them billions?

    1. 1

      To the point @Emelie 🙌🏻

      It is not about shutting those services down or seek for alternatives, those companies should be legislated on how they use personal data, which they collect through their platforms. Facebook was just a huge mistake.

      Dave Eggers described Facebook in his novel "The Circle".

  5. 2

    Totally agree with @markosaric !

    Most of the information delivered through the documentary wasn't new to me, but still it is always scary to hear about the practices from those big-tech companies.

    I am thankful for a company like Netflix and its reach to push such a documentation so more and more people get aware of how those companies operate. So most of the parts of the documentation will be very eyeopening for someone who never heard anything about data privacy regarding those big tech companies.

    In the end, everyone has to decide for itself how their data gets handled. For me personally, it is an incredibly important topic. I vanished every single Google product out of my life (still holding onto an Android phone because I need it for work, but yes that is the compromise). I got more and more aware of which sites I visit, which service I use, and which apps I download. If I am not ready to delete any specific Social Media, there are lots of ways to trim it so it is more privacy-friendly (but still not perfect). It is not about committing so everybody goes straight ahead and deletes everything, there are small steps we can all take to make the internet a more privacy-focused place.

    I also have to agree with @stevenkkim comment. There are some dilemmas with Youtube, Reddit, Twitter, etc. since if you use it right, you can find great valuable content there. In the end we should not use recommendations, trends, etc. and instead just search directly for what we are looking for.

    1. 2

      For YouTube, I aggressively curate my feed to make sure it shows only my interests using the "not interested" and "don't recommend channel" every time YouTube tries to insert something in there that I don't care about. The result is that my feed is full of only my interests.

      1. 1

        That is the way to go! I also need to focus on this more and more!

  6. 1

    Good shout, Rosie. Watched it today. I'm going to watch it again and take notes.

    First thoughts:

    • am discussing with spouse if we should make our 11 and 13 year olds watch it
    • I have read most of the authors interviewed and met one of them
    • YES moment—when Jaron Lanier compares Wikipedia (where everyone sees the same thing) to Google (where everyone sees something different for the same search)
    • along with others here, I'm not willing to throw out all the good stuff I get from YouTube, Twitter, IG, etc. (I stay off Facebook) just to avoid being tracked, and I don't think that's necessary (neither do all the folks interviewed in the film)
    • my first impulse was to tweet about it... ha ha!

    Gripes:

    • why is this named "The Social Dilemma" when Google is one of the biggest offenders, along with YouTube (semi-social, YT, I suppose)?

    I've been obsessed with feed algorithms, inequality, personal data ownership and disinformation for a while now. I've studied a lot on this topics. So I have thoughts that are too vast for the comments here.

    But hey the good news about the topic is, I've got an app for that!

      1. 1

        Thanks, Rosie ☺️

  7. 1

    I really liked the personification of the Facebook algorithm. Even as a techy person, this makes it feel much less abstract and highlight how the algorithms really affect us.

  8. 1

    Indeed nothing new for me, It's a bit double for me

    I somehow and don't shoot me down for this.
    But somehow get the feeling these people talking, knew from day one (like anyone in tech) this is what's going on...
    So you waited x years to make good money and name for yourself, and only then are you invested to make it better??

    I'm a 100% for this documentary, it's just nothing new really, It's the world we live in.

  9. 1

    I've read a lot about this, probably most relevant is "Zucked." So I feel like I do need to watch this.

    I just have to find a time to do it when my partner isn't around because I think it'll scare the crap out of him 😬

  10. 1

    I think their mission of raising awareness to the general population is a good and noble one.

    For me, the real question this all distills down to is: how do you create a healthy alternative that can compete with these addictive algorithms without VC money, which requires 7-10x returns in 7-10 years.

    Because I think all these companies started with good intentions, and had lots of people building with good intentions.

    But the fiduciary obligations loomed.

    I think some folks will think all “social technology” is bad for a long time now - when what’s really bad isn’t the tech. It’s the monetization and the obligations of the companies to produce a result that takes priority over the health / wellbeing of the users and communities.

  11. 1

    Very excited to watch this, especially as one of my long time indie hacker projects is built around dealing with this problem.

    I think it's great that this is seeing more mainstream attention, I'm perhaps naively optimistic in thinking it might be the very thing that ends the era of Facebook as people start to become aware of the effect it's having on us. My long term goal for my project (News Feed Eradicator) is for it to become unnecessary.

  12. 1

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