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Wonder, Wealth & Abundance

Social media in our life

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Read two books on either side of the debate pro and against social media. The pro book also had sinister and disturbing facts.

Jaron Lanier in Deleting Social media accounts cites:

Here’s Sean Parker, the first president of Facebook:

We need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever.… It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.… The inventors, creators—it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people—understood this consciously. And we did it anyway … it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other.… It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.

Here’s Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice president of user growth at Facebook:

The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works.… No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem—this is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.… I feel tremendous guilt. I think we all knew in the back of our minds—even though we feigned this whole line of, like, there probably aren’t any bad unintended consequences. I think in the back, deep, deep recesses of, we kind of knew something bad could happen.… So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion. It is eroding the core foundation of how people behave by and between each other. And I don’t have a good solution. My solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore. I haven’t for years.

We need to foster joy, intellectual challenge, individuality, curiosity, and other qualities that don’t fit into a tidy chart.

The term “engagement” is part of the familiar, sanitized language that hides how stupid a machine we have built. We must start using terms like “addiction” and “behavior modification.” Here’s

another example of sanitized language: We still call the customers of social media companies “advertisers”—and, to be fair, many of them are. They want you to buy a particular brand of soap or something. But they might also be nasty, hidden creeps who want to undermine democracy. So I prefer to call this class of person a manipulator.

Sorry, soap sellers.… Actually, I can report, the people at companies like Procter & Gamble are just fine—I’ve met a bunch of them—and their world would be happier if they weren’t beholden to social media companies.”

What started as advertising morphed into what would better be called “empires of behavior modification for rent.” That transformation has often attracted new kinds of customers/manipulators, and they aren’t pretty.

You can’t pay social media companies to help end wars and make everyone kind. Social media is biased, not to the Left or the Right, but downward.

Once you can use a pocket device to order rides and food and find out where to meet your friends right away, it’s hard to go back. It’s hard to remember that people with rare medical conditions used to have no way of finding other people in the same boat, so there was no one to talk to about unusual problems. What a blessing that it has become possible.

Solitary/Pack Switch

My working hypothesis has long been that there’s a switch deep in every human personality that can be set in one of two modes. We’re like wolves. We can either be solitary or members of a pack of wolves. I call this switch the Solitary/Pack switch.

When we’re solitary wolves, we’re more free. We’re cautious, but also capable of more joy. We think for ourselves, improvise, create. We scavenge, hunt, hide. We howl once in a while out of pure exuberance.

When we’re in a pack, interactions with others become the most important thing in the world. I don’t know how far that goes with wolves, but it’s dramatic in people. When people are locked in a competitive, hierarchical power structure, as in a corporation, they can lose sight of the reality of what they’re doing because the immediate power struggle looms larger than reality itself.

Scientific communities can also suffer from the switch being set to Pack. For instance, the theoretical physicist Lee Smolin documented how string theorists exerted mob rule for a while in the world of theoretical physics. The pattern is found whenever people form into groups. Street gangs perceive only pack concepts such as territory and revenge, even as they destroy their lives, families, and neighborhoods. The Pack setting of the switch makes you pay so much attention to your peers and enemies in the world of packs that you can become blind to what’s happening right in front of your face.

The switch in people should generally be kept in the Solitary Wolf position. Manias and economic bubbles are also caused by Pack position.

When people are solitary wolves, then each individual has access to slightly different information about the world, and slightly different ways of thinking about that information. I’ve been talking about the relationship between the Solitary setting and personal character, but there are other reasons to keep the switch in the Solitary position.

Jar candy Analogy

Consider a demonstration that is often enacted on the first day of business school. A professor shows a class a big jar of jelly beans and asks each person to estimate the number of beans. Averaging all the estimates usually results in a pretty accurate count. Each person brings different perspectives, cognitive styles, skills, and strategies to the mystery, and the average gets at the agreements between them. (This only works for single-number answers. If you ask a committee to design a product or write a novel, the result comes out like something made by a committee.)

Now suppose that the students could look at the jar only through photos in a social media feed. Different camps of people with different ideas about the number of beans would form and would ridicule each other. Russian intelligence services would add pictures of similar jars with different numbers of beans. Bean promoters would motivate trolls to argue that there aren’t enough beans and you must buy more. And so on. There would no longer be a way to guess the number of beans because the power of diversity will have been compromised. When that happens, markets can no longer offer utility to the world.

You can replace the jar with a political candidate, a product, or anything else.

Creepy = Relevant Ads

Facebook is listening

Scott Galloway in Four says:When you have the Facebook app open on your phone in the United States, Facebook is listening . . . and analyzing. That’s right: Anything you do involving Facebook is likely to be gathered and stored. The firm claims it’s not using the data to tailor ads, but to better serve up content you may be interested in, or want to share, based on what you are doing (shopping at Target, watching Game of Thrones).

What we do know is that Facebook can indeed eavesdrop on ambient noise, picked up on your phone’s microphone.

If you want to turn off Facebook listen to conversations while in bed at night or confidential meetings:

https://qz.com/697923/heres-how-to-stop-facebook-from-listening-to-you-on-your-phone

That means Facebook can feed this noise into AI-augmented listening software and determine whom you are with, and what you are doing—and even what the people around you are talking about. The targeting isn’t any creepier than what happens on the wider web when you have a pixel dropped on your browser and get retargeted ads. That pair of shoes that’s following you around the internet? You’ve been targeted. What’s creepy is how good Facebook is getting at it and the number of platforms it can gather and share data across. Double-tap a Vans image on Instagram, and you may find an ad for those same Vans in your Facebook feed the next day. “Creepy” is correlated to relevance.

This is tantamount to a car that becomes more valuable with mileage. We now have a Benjamin Button class of products that age in reverse. Wearing your Nikes makes them less valuable. But posting to Facebook that you are wearing Nikes makes the network more valuable. This is referred to as “network effects” or “agility.” Not only do users make the network more powerful (everyone being on Facebook), but also when you turn on Waze, the service gets better for everyone, as it can geolocate you and calibrate traffic patterns.

Facebook’s algorithm can be used to microtarget distinct populations in specific geographic areas. An advertiser can say, “Give me all the millennial women around Portland looking to buy a car.” Using data mined from the social media accounts of millions of Americans, Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked on Brexit and on the Trump campaign, created a “psychographic profile” of voters ahead of the 2016 election. The company used behavioral microtargeting to deliver specific pro-Trump messages that resonated with specific voters for highly personal reasons. With knowledge of 150 likes, their model could predict someone’s personality better than their spouse. With 300, it understood you better than yourself.

Some digital companies also lag. Twitter, for example, doesn’t know much about its customers. Millions of them have fake names, and as many as 48 million (15 percent) are bots.

1 billion USD per employee acquisition cost

Much of this enormous beast is Instagram. Facebook bought the photo-sharing site in 2012 for $1 billion. It’s proving to be one of the greatest acquisitions of all time. In the face of ridicule (“A billion for a company with nineteen people?”), the Zuck was steadfast and pulled the trigger on an asset that’s worth fifty-plus times what he paid for it. Whether or not you believe Instagram is the premier platform in its market, it’s less of a stretch to acknowledge that it may have been the best acquisition of the last twenty years. (And Zuckerberg wasn’t as lucky two years later—he paid twenty times that for WhatsApp, which had about the same number of employees.

Written by amitdipsite

August 23, 2018 at 7:32 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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