Tag: social media (page 3 of 16)

The Un-Grammable Hang Zone

Instagram has never been a place I’ve ever wanted to spend any time or attention. But its impact on physical spaces is undeniable.

This post (newsletter issue?) by Drew Austin cites a couple of other authors who perfectly skewer the Instagram aesthetic as being a grammar that quickly conveys that somebody… did a thing.

Living my best life

The Blackbird Spyplane newsletter recently made a valuable contribution to the pantheon of essays about how the internet has transformed the physical world: a hopeful manifesto in praise of the “Un-Grammable Hang Zone,” the definition of which will be obvious if you’ve spent enough time in the Instagram-optimized settings that have proliferated in cities during the past decade—places that BBSP describes as a “high-efficiency, low-humanity kind of eatery where you point yr phone at a QR code and do contactless payment before eating a room-temp grain bowl under a pink neon sign that says ‘Living My Best Life’ in cursive.”


Affirming the interchangeability of “millennial” and “Instragrammable” as descriptors, Fischer pinpoints the force that really drives them: Instagrammable “does not mean ‘beautiful’ or even quite ‘photogenic’; it means something more like ‘readable.’ The viewer could scroll past an image and still grasp its meaning, e.g., ‘I saw fireworks,’ ‘I am on vacation,’ or ‘I have friends.’” If Instagram as a medium demands readability, in other words, it puts pressure on the physical environment to simplify itself accordingly, at least in the long run.

Source: #178: I Can See It (But I Can’t Feel It) | Kneeling Bus

Dark patterns and gambling

Given that most gambling these days happens via smartphone apps, and that the psychological tricks used by gambling firms are also used by, for example, for-profit centralised social media sites, I found this fascinating (and worrying!)

Person climbing up a stack of dice

Kim Lund, founder of poker game firm Aftermath Interactive, has made a career out of game design and has seen at first-hand how cold, hard probability defeats the illogical human mind every time – and allows the gambling companies to cash in. “All gambling games are based on psychological triggers that mean they work,” he tells me. “The human brain is incapable of dealing with randomness. We’re obsessed with finding patterns in things because that prevents us from going insane. We want to make sense of things.”


In her 1975 paper The Illusion of Control, Ellen J Langer conducted a series of experiments that showed that our expectations of success in a game of chance vary, depending on factors that do not actually affect the outcome. One of the variables that makes a big difference to how gamblers behave is the introduction of an element of choice. In one of Langer’s experiments, subjects were given lottery tickets with an American football player on them. Some subjects got to choose which player they wanted, others were allocated a ticket at random. On the morning of the draw, everyone was asked how much they would be prepared to sell their ticket for. Those who had chosen their ticket demanded an average of $8.67, while those who had been allocated one at random were prepared to give it up for $1.96.

Source: What gambling firms don’t want you to know – and how they keep you hooked | Thee Guardian

Reducing offensive social media messages by intervening during content-creation

Six per cent isn’t a lot, but perhaps a number of approaches working together can help with this?

The proliferation of harmful and offensive content is a problem that many online platforms face today. One of the most common approaches for moderating offensive content online is via the identification and removal after it has been posted, increasingly assisted by machine learning algorithms. More recently, platforms have begun employing moderation approaches which seek to intervene prior to offensive content being posted. In this paper, we conduct an online randomized controlled experiment on Twitter to evaluate a new intervention that aims to encourage participants to reconsider their offensive content and, ultimately, seeks to reduce the amount of offensive content on the platform. The intervention prompts users who are about to post harmful content with an opportunity to pause and reconsider their Tweet. We find that users in our treatment prompted with this intervention posted 6% fewer offensive Tweets than non-prompted users in our control. This decrease in the creation of offensive content can be attributed not just to the deletion and revision of prompted Tweets — we also observed a decrease in both the number of offensive Tweets that prompted users create in the future and the number of offensive replies to prompted Tweets. We conclude that interventions allowing users to reconsider their comments can be an effective mechanism for reducing offensive content online.

Source: Reconsidering Tweets: Intervening During Tweet Creation Decreases Offensive Content | arXiv.org