Knowledge Question/Concept My Notes
Given modern advances in technology, how can we distinguish between information and disinformation, deliberate misinformation, and manipulation? –       This is the age of misinformation: we cannot trust these companies to regulate truth and falsehood.

–       By its very nature, misinformation is more sensational and surprising than the truth. Therefore, it may spread faster.

–       The “Feedback loop” created by social media algorithms largely exacerbate this network of manipulation and disinformation.

To what extent do social networks reinforce our existing perspective rather than boosting our engagement with diverse perspectives? –       They create these “feedback loops” in which individuals only see pages that support their existing values

–       They create “suggestion/recommendations” to steer users to a specific viewpoint.

How has technology had an impact on how we browse, search and filter data and information? Can algorithms be biased? –       We have switched from using a tool to creating a distraction. A tool waits to be used, but social media always wants your attention. Instead of searching, we now allow these algorithms to direction our attention.

–       Algorithms can be biased. They are biased in the sense that they only want your attention, no matter the cost. Algorithms are biased to profit the tech companies.

To what extent have technological developments led to an increase in data being collected without people’s consent or when they are unaware that it is being collected? –       The vast majority of data collected without one’s consent is done online.

–       There are certain technical techniques big tech companies use to track and obtain one’s data. I.E Cookies.

–       These tech companies track your interest’s long term. That is to say that they create these profiles that are designed to keep your attention. By keeping your attention, they are able to show more ads.

Should we hold people responsible for the applications of technologies they develop/create? –       Yes. To a certain extent. The company itself must be held accountable.

–       The “whole” of the tech companies are greater than the “parts” that make them up. It is not right to hold “well-intentioned” people to the consequences they have caused. However, if we do not hold them accountable, who is responsible?

What impact has social media had on how we acquire and share political

knowledge?

–       Social media, specifically the feedback loop, creates extremist ideas. By only showing coinciding opinions, they pull individuals down a rabbit hole and they become to invested to backdown – Dogmatism.

–       There is now a greater problem of slander and misinformation online than ever. This can negatively affect political discourse.

Are new ethical challenges emerging from the increased use of data analytics in political activity and decision-making? –       Yes, they are emerging every day.

–       We need to consider the ethics of creating tech that manipulates and spreads disinformation faster than truth.

–       By regulating what exactly we are exposed to online, we are able to create positive change.

 

When I was watching “The Social Dilemma” I was continuously congratulating myself on not downloading any form of social media other than WeChat. Not to brag, buuuuuut … I am not on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or any other similar social media platform (yay!). Even for WeChat, I have set the time limit for usage to 1 hour every day. Now that I’ve watched “The Social Dilemma” I am definitely not going to be downloading any of these apps. I do not want to be turned into another data-point for Facebook’s algorithm. It just creepy to think that these big tech companies are able to manipulate and misdirect your attention to create profit.

 

That being said, it was still frightening to realize how much tech companies really do know about individuals, and the subsequent techniques they employ to trap user’s attention. Something mentioned in the documentary that I really related to on a personal level was the addictiveness of algorithm’s suggestions – especially on YouTube. Somedays I could start off on YouTube by watching a school-related crash-course video and find myself, two hours later, still on the platform. It is an immense waste of time, yet I can’t seem to stop. I realize that the creators of YouTube probably did not intend to create such a destructive website and most likely created the “recommendation section” to allow users to diversity their interests. Nevertheless, YouTube recommendations has created, for me, the perfect “procrastination” outlet.

In the future, I will try to refrain from binging YouTube by setting a time limit on the number of hours I will spend on the site.