The Social Dilemma Exposes Crucial Information on Social Media

The Social Dilemma interviews many social media developers to showcase how the artificial intelligence in platforms takes advantage of its users.


Moira Doolittle, Staff Reporter

The Social Dilemma is a new Netflix original documentary on the true horrors of how social media works. It interviews many current or past workers of the companies that run some of the biggest social media platforms in the world, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google; some of the experts are even people who were the original developers of these technologies.

I, personally, am completely aware that I spend a lot of time–perhaps too much time–on social media; my personal favorite platform is Instagram. I watched this documentary just a bit after it came out, and it shook me to my core.

The Social Dilemma is a rude awakening for anyone who has ever spent time on the internet. It exposes how the artificial intelligence, or AI, really functions for the sole purpose of keeping our attention as long as possible in order to keep us looking at advertisements. Tristan Harris used to work at Google and, when interviewed for The Social Dilemma, he said “Social media isn’t just a tool that is waiting to be used. It has its own goals, and its own means of pursuing them.” These companies are analyzing our personalities and using our data to keep us engaged in order to sell our attention to advertisers; as Harris likes to say, “We are the product.”

I am not usually the type of person to be convinced against social media. Suffice to say, I went into this documentary very skeptical, and trust me, my opinions are not easily swayed. I did not expect to be hit as hard as I was. When I unthinkingly clicked into Instagram later that night, I immediately clicked out, put my phone down, and left my room because it freaked me out that I really was programmed to do the things these companies want me to do.

The documentary itself is brilliant. The incredible editing, dramatic music, and the story they incorporated all work to affect the viewer’s emotions to scare them. It stays engaging, while still educational, and definitely succeeds in its goal of making its viewers think twice before tapping on that unassuming little icon on their screen.

It is inconceivably important that everyone knows what really is going on behind their favorite platforms. I highly recommend this documentary to anyone who has ever had a social media account, or even anyone who has used the internet–which is to say everyone. I may not be deleting Instagram anytime soon, but I will definitely not be spending as much time there anymore. 5/5 paws; devour it!