To the Editor:
Time magazine featured a timely article/expose last month on the uses and abuses of social media currently taking place here and abroad. The author of the article was Roger McNamee, a Facebook insider and now a whistleblower, who requires our attention.
Unfortunately, all of the negative things we have heard from time to time how social media is giving our youth, who have been trained to worship at the throne of technology, an unhealthy social outlet as well as affecting our entire society negatively, are true.
Here is an example, “Every action a user took gave Facebook a better understanding of that user — and of that user’s friends — enabling the company to make tiny ‘improvements’ in the user experience every day, which is to say it got better at manipulating the attention of users. Any advertiser could buy access to that attention.”
McNamee admits that he is coming forward as an activist because, “I was among the first to see a catastrophe unfolding …” The bottom line is that the technology industry, “depends on advertising, which in turn depends on manipulating the attention of users so they see more ads.”
Now, we come to the experts at the use of mass psychology/propaganda, “One of the best ways to manipulate attention is to appeal to outrage and fear, emotions that increase engagement.” So, every little thing that is posted on social media becomes fodder/feed for advertisers to use. Facebook’s power to manipulate data became an addiction for its founder and, “Before long, Facebook was spying on everyone, including people who do not use Facebook.”
It gets worse. From 2012 to 2017 a new skill came into being — growth hacking — which, “enabled Facebook to monetize [convert into cash] its oceans of data so effectively that growth-hacking metrics blocked out all other considerations. In the world of growth hacking, users are a metric, not people.” Thus, to expect the industry to police itself is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
To put a face on this monster, I prefer to refer to it as a UFO, which stands for Unidentified Frankenstein Operation. In this 1818 novel, Dr. Frankenstein creates a hideous, wise creature from body parts in a laboratory but without a soul. It was to be human directed but the monster turned on its master and killed him. The Bible talks of wars and rumors of wars in the Last Days. Wars are ongoing all around us involving, wealth, power, greed, politics and all kinds of social ills.
James R. Gillespie