Review of “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix

September 25, 2020
Safety and Privacy

Review of “The Social Dilemma” on Netflix

Spoiler alert: You are the product, cash-out of history’s greatest ever data heist.

Netflix’s “The Social Dilemma,” is a top ten trending documentary-drama exploring the dangerous human impact of social engineering based on data. This is social media’s greatest tech experts sounding the alarm on their own monster creations.

Released last week, The Social Dilemma focusses on the impact of social media on children, young people and their families. Big questions are raised about widespread data gathering and the way our information is used by huge global companies that do not have our best personal interests at heart.

The Social Dilemma’s makers explain that the “unintended consequences of exploitative technologies are catching up with us” in the form of mental health, democracy and discrimination dilemmas.

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Basically the show is a platform for “Silicon Valley insiders to reveal how social media is reprogramming civilization by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen.” 

You, and the data you provide, is the product of the huge search and social media companies, which is then sold to the highest bidder.

“If it is free, you are the product.”

This is an old saying but has been taken up in recent years to apply to Facebook in particular and other online ad-based businesses that sell user information.

Here is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testifying to US Congress:

Senator Orrin Hatch: ‘How do you sustain a business model in which users don’t pay for your service?’

Zuckerberg: “Senator, we run ads.”

Those ads are targeted to users based on information that Facebook holds. You can read more about the information that Facebook tells advertisers about you in my article here also reviewing The Social Dilemma and explaining How to find Facebook’s ad preferences page.

Media writer Douglas Rushkoff was among the first people to point out (back in 2011) that Facebook users are the product.

Here is a good great article exploring the “If it is free, you are the product” phenomenon.

Social media applications and data harvesting systems rely on a business model which is advertising-centred, fuelling the need to manipulate users. The end goal for tech companies is to extract as much data about each user as possible.

Google search results differ according to many factors like your location but also your online habits, buying history and other information about you. That might be good for finding the nearest ATM but it has extremely negative and discriminatory outcomes as well according to The Social Dilemma.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">I&#39;ve just got my <a href="">@SocialDilemma</a> game card. got <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#bingo</a> !! yay. Do I win a prize? cash maybe? <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#cashwelcome</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TheSocialDilemma</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Jason Bryce (@jasonbryce) <a href="">September 22, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Doteveryone, a UK based fintech research house, is calling for more government oversight of the digital world and more responsibility on the part of big tech:

“We recommend all tech companies implement trustworthy, transparent design patterns that show how services work and give people meaningful control over how they operate.”

According to doteveryone’s People, Power, Technology digital attitudes survey for 2020, most people (58%) believe the tech sector is regulated too lightly. 

About half say they are forced to ‘sign-up’ for online services despite having concerns. More than half of people surveyed said they would like somewhere to seek help for online issues or a more straightforward system of reporting tech companies.

Tim Wildash from Next Payments said online companies simply know too much about us for own good.

“The only way to get out of the clutches of the current global online heist of our data and information is to use cash where possible.”

“We all use cards, phones and online services to do business these days but now we are all realising that limiting the amount of information we give away is important.

“It’s there for all to see in the Netflix Doco, 'The Social Dilemma,’ the lack of privacy and the damage it can do to young people and families in particular,” said Tim Wildash.

“Social media platforms use our data to create a “surveillance state”, where all our movements are tracked, stored and a personal profile is created which can be used against us.

“I say get off the treadmill, cash is king for keeping your information safe and secure.”

For more information about privacy and cashless transactions see CashWelcome.ORG. Jason Bryce is a financial journalist based in Melbourne Australia and I have a petition currently open on – Say No To Cashless Society.

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