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This feedback has been created to help you be more aware of the power and challenges of today's social media.  


Social Media has empowered users in ways that were unimaginable twenty years ago. Social media sites have given us the ability to reach a global audience and have increased the average user's means to persuade and influence. We are no longer just consumers of media but content creators and distributors and editors, opinion makers, and journalists. The digital age has made it easy for anyone to create social media content. Therefore, we do not know the creator, the purpose, and most importantly, if it is authentic.   


Although we cannot do away with social media, we must be aware of its impact on us as individuals and society. Therefore, media literacy is an essential skill for the 21st century. In this feedback, we compare your answers to the answers of others and share links to articles and worksheets that can deepen your understanding.

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There is an entire discipline called 'Growth hacking' where a team of engineers whose job it is to hack people's psychology to be used to increase user sign-ups and create more engagement. 

Growth hacking is a sub-field of marketing focused on the rapid growth of the company. 

Here is a useful reference - Growth hacking

Persuasive Technology is a design intentionally applied to the extreme to modify someone's behavior. It is used to program others at a deeper level to create an unconscious habit. 

Persuasive technology is regularly used in areas of human-human or human-computer interaction. 

Here is a useful reference - Persuasive technology

There are only two industries that call its customers users - Illegal drugs and software. 

Edward Tufte (American statistician and professor emeritus of political science, statistics, and computer science at Yale University) In Social Dilemma, A Netflix documentary. 

Here is a useful reference - There are only two industries that refer to customers as ‘users’, one is IT, the other is the illegal drugs trade.

Facebook rolled out experiments to find out the most optimal way to get users to do what they want them to do. This in other words would be manipulation. 

A/B testing is done to determine the best strategy and improve future campaigns. 

Here is a useful reference 

Chamath Palihapitiya (Facebook – Former VP Growth) In Social Dilemma, A Netflix documentary 

The social media engagement strategy is based on psychological theories. 

Understanding customers is largely dependent on understanding how they think. Here is a useful reference - The Psychology Behind Social Media Engagement

There are massive rooms underground and under water, with tons and tons of computers that are deeply inter-connected with each other running complicated programs - some algorithms are simple and others so complex, you call them intelligence. 

One single click or opening of an App can keep us busy for several minutes or even hours at times 

Many of the attention capturing content harness our brain's dopamine system to nudge us to engage more. Here is a useful reference - Trapped - the secret ways social media is built to be addictive (and what you can do to fight back) 

Our need to be accepted, feel happy or just be part of the group keeps us hooked to social media 

Here is a useful reference to an article about why we like, comment and share

Constant use of devices can lead to confusion, memory loss, loss of focus, less empathy, impaired abilities, and misinterpretation. 

Learn how screen time can affect our health from this useful reference - How Does Screen Time Affect Your Brain, Anxiety & Overall Health?

Algorithms are written to understand our thoughts, inclinations, and personalities, to ensure we see information that matches our interests. 

Learn how algorithms know us when we hardly know ourselves for this useful reference - How can algorithms know us, when we hardly know ourselves?

Social media helps us expand our minds and our understanding 

Social media can be used for the good, but we need to develop skills to use it safely 

Social Media can improve your life if you know how to use social media for good. You can learn more from this useful reference - How to Use Social Media For Good: 7 Tips to Use Social Media Wisely

Research points to a strong link between mental health and social media use. 

Experts say that social media use may play an important role in youth suicide. You can learn more from this useful reference - Social media use may play important role in youth suicide, expert says

Millions of Americans are hopelessly addicted to the electronic devices  

You can learn more about internet addiction that is sweeping America and affecting millions from this useful reference - Internet addiction is sweeping America, affecting millions

Social Media has increased depression in children. 

Learn more about the evidence that is mounting to show that there is a link between social media and depression from this useful reference - Does Social Media Use Cause Depression?

Most news that we watch is fake and is becoming advanced and threatening the societies across the world. 

Learn  ore about lies, propaganda and fake news online form this useful reference - Lies, propaganda and fake news: A challenge for our age

Our democracy is under assault because of social media  

There is a threat to democracy: the growing power of social-media platforms. The same algorithms that are effective at personalized target marketing have been shown to be effective at mass manipulation. A democracy requires an informed public, not one that can be manipulated psychologically without its awareness. Learn more from the reference - Social-media platforms are undermining our democracy. Lawmakers need to step up and protect it.

Teenagers / young people want surgery to look like they do in filtered selfies.

The American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons reported that 55% of facial plastic surgeons in 2017 saw patients who wanted surgery to help them look better in selfies, compared to just 13% in 2013. Here is a useful reference - People are getting surgery to look like their Snapchat selfies

The business model of any social media is to get your attention, you are the product. 

When something is free, it means you are the product! Here is a useful reference - The Attention Economy

Just about 50 designers in California make decisions that impact 2 billion people, in terms of the user interface and user journeys on Google. 

Tristan Harris (Former Design Ethicist, Google) in Social Dilemma, a Netflix documentary. Here is a useful reference - The Social Dilemma: Should Your Thoughts Be Monetized?

Communication on social media is different than in in-person. 

Human beings are social creatures by nature. Engaging with others is almost as crucial as food and water to our survival. The way in which we communicate has been rapidly evolving over recent years. Learn more from the reference - Communication: Online vs. Face-to-Face Interactions

Connecting to people in realtime is a challenge even when they connect to the same people on social media. 

Social media offers connectivity, but it is important to find a balance. Learn about how it is changing our perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world with the reference - A Virtual Life: How Social Media Changes Our Perceptions

Social media can gather your personality traits. 

Social media can gather information about your personality traits. For example, extraverts tended to spend more time interacting with others on social media. People high in agreeableness tended not to be any more or less social than their less agreeable counterparts, but they did post more photos. Conscientious people tended to spend less time using social media to learn about others and to play games. High openness predicted the opposite pattern of high conscientiousness. Learn more from the reference - What Can We Learn About People From Their Social Media?

Every single action you take, everything you do online, is being watched, being measured, is being recorded, being tracked, and is monitored closely. 

Each app is caught in a race for your attention, competing not just against other apps, but also against your friends, your family, your hobbies, and even your sleep. Learn more from the reference - The Attention Economy 

The data being sold is a misconception. The truth is data is used to build models to predict our behavior. 

Social media data can be mined to predict our behavior. You can learn more from the reference - How Social Media Can be Mined to Predict our Behaviour: New Advances in Social Networks Analysis

The data out there on social media has almost no human supervision. 

Learn more from Sandy Parakilas (Facebook & Uber – Former Ops & Product Manager) in Social Dilemma, A Netflix documentary. And here is a useful reference - Do social media companies lack effective supervision?

As the amount of time young teenage girls spend glued to Instagram, TikTok and other social media sites goes up, so does their long-term risk for suicide. 

A 2021 study warns that as time on social media increases, so do suicide rates in teenage girls. You can learn more from the reference - As Social Media Time Rises, So Does Teen Girls' Suicide Risk

Constant stream of retweets, likes, and shares from sites cause the brain's reward area to trigger the same kind of chemical reaction seen with drugs like Cocaine

Psychologists estimate that as many as 5 to 10% of Americans met the criteria for social media addiction in 2021. Learn more from the reference - Social Media Addiction

When you type in a search word, the result is different depending on where you live. Even people sitting next to each other can get different results.  

Social media and search algorithms use what they know about us to show us content that gets us to like, click, and share. You can learn more about this from the reference - The Attention Economy

Suicide rates have tripled among youth aged 10 to 14 years, especially among girls, and suicide rates are significantly higher among African American children younger than 13 years. 

I am not a passive consumer of content, but I also contribute to the content by liking, and re-sharing. 

Facts were supposed to be universal. But with social media, each person is operating with a different set of "facts" leading to failed objectivity.  

You can learn more about this from Rashida Richardson (NYU school of law, Adjunct Professor; AI Now Institute Director of Policy Research) in Social Dilemma, a Netflix documentary. And here is another useful reference - The Future of Truth and Misinformation Online

Social media is causing personal and political polarization like never before. 

Social media platforms are used to meddle in democratic elections, incite armed violence and you can learn more about this from the reference - Social media: A tool for peace or conflict?

Social Media can create a civil war. 

Social media platforms have been used to contribute to crime against humanity as in the case of persecution of the Rohingya in Myanmar. You can learn more about this from the reference - Social media: A tool for peace or conflict?

Social Media is a serious threat as is it bringing out the worst in people.