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How Does Social Media Maximize Profits By Making Users’ Angry?

Misbar's Editorial Team Misbar's Editorial Team
Technology
5th January 2022
How Does Social Media Maximize Profits By Making Users’ Angry?
Twitter users with radical opinions get more followers (Getty).

Note: The views and opinions expressed in blog/editorial posts are those of the author. They do not reflect the views or opinions of Misbar.

Facebook (now Meta) inspires conflicting emotions. It’s almost impossible for some to ignore the magic of endless scrolling and content filtered just for us. It helps us feel connected and in the know. It influences our mood and our sense of self in negative ways.

On the other hand, a centralized company harvests user data and uses it to manipulate those users psychologically and then turns that data and those users into a profitable product . Sometimes, it feels as if Facebook listens to us, you look for a book, and suddenly your Facebook news feed generates endless choices for where to get this book from!

Some look at this choice as an easy way out to find what they are looking for. Some even joke about it by getting their phones closer to their mouth to speak out about what they wish to find. In a few minutes, dozens of choices are being delivered to them through their Facebook news feed.

The twist is, looking for a book or jeans store is just a simple indication of how social media users are being used as an easy generator of commercial ads, without their approval.

Social media didn’t just take advantage of their users for their commercial benefits when it comes to commercial ads; it went further down by spreading what is now known to be hate speech that has infested the world of social media.

That’s exactly what Frances Haugen, the former director of content at Facebook, confirmed about two months ago in her testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee. 

Speaking before the Senate subcommittee on Tuesday, Haugen called out Facebook to create a “system that amplifies division, extremism, and polarization” worldwide.

“Facebook became a $1 trillion company by paying for its profits with our safety, including the safety of our children,” Haugen wrote.

“There were conflicts of interest between what was good for the public and what was good for Facebook,” Frances Haugen told 60 Minutes. She added that in these situations, Facebook “repeatedly” prioritized its interests over those of its users.

Following Haugen’s televised interview, Facebook released a statement disputing the points she made and assuring that the company will continue to make “significant improvements” to prevent the spread of misinformation and harmful content.

“To suggest we encourage bad content and do nothing is just not true,” said Facebook spokesperson Lena Pietsch in a statement.

Since content goes viral based on views, likes, comments, and shares by Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram users, news or video containing aggression, a natural disaster, or a misleading statement will spread faster than any post or tweet with genuine and accurate information. 

Even the Millennial generation felt like they had to become influencers sharing silly content as an easy way out, hoping for more reach, exposure, or even becoming celebrities.  The ultimate goal is making money out of their content on social media.

Scientists from Yale University found that social media platforms such as Twitter “amplify our collective moral outrage.” They also found that “politically moderate users” were the ones who have learned to “be more outraged over time.” The findings of the study are detailed in Science Advances

Social media platforms, especially Twitter and Facebook, are rampant with “political content that floats around in your newsfeed, and it usually comes with a lot of moral outrage,” says William Brady, a postdoctoral researcher in the department of psychology at Yale University.

An article published by Psychology Today cited studies that found social media discussions to carry both “informational and social aspects of group polarization.”

According to the article, Twitter users with radical opinions get more followers, while tweets that have useful facts get more “likes” and retweets. 

According to Twitter’s algorithm, more radical individuals have more social influence, making their voice heard more than users with positive educational and social impact.

In an interview with Misbar, Issa Nemmer, a singer and social activist, said that he got really frustrated with trying to build a career on social media. As a member of the new generation of social media users who are trying to deliver content with educational or social value, Nemmer said the only videos that attracted more views were videos of him being aggressive or silly. 

Nemmer was only one of many users who believe that social media is building a future of ignorant, angry, and silly celebrities that hold the title of an influencer but have nothing to do with the big responsibilities that come with this title.

Resources

Psychology Today

Yale University

CNN

AP

Reuters

CBS News

Science Advances

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