Solving the Social Dilemma | MIT Technology Review

And such answers are precisely what brings in audiences and income. “The business models that run the industrial complex of social media have a lot to do with the results we see,” says Aral. “It’s an attention economy, and businesses want you to be engaged. How do they get involved? Well, they give you little dips of dopamine, and … piss you off.

The political implications are sobering. During the 2016 US presidential campaign, Russia spread false information to at least 126 million people on Facebook and another 20 million on Instagram. “I think we need to be a lot more vigilant than we are,” says Aral.

To this end, it promotes automated and user-generated labeling of fake news, and measures to minimize the advertising revenue that content creators can collect from misinformation. He believes federal privacy measures are potentially useful and calls for portability and interoperability of data, so consumers “can move freely from one network to another.” He does not approve of the dismantling of Facebook, suggesting instead that the social media economy needs structural reform.

But without change, he adds, Facebook and others risk a citizen reaction. “If you piss me off and piss me off, I might click more in the short term, but I could also get really tired and bored with the way it makes my life miserable, and I might put you off completely,” he says. But bad results are not inevitable – for business or for society.

“Technology is what we make of it,” he says, “and we abdicate our responsibility to steer technology towards good and away from evil. This is the path I am trying to illuminate in this book.

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