Tag: social networks (page 1 of 13)

Losing followers, making friends

There’s a lot going on in this article, which I’ve taken plenty of quotations from below. It’s worth taking some time over, especially if you haven’t read Thinking, Fast & Slow (or it’s been a while since you did!)

Social media inherited and weaponised the chronological weblog feed. Showing content based on user activity hooked us in for longer. When platforms discovered anger and anxiety boosts screen time, the battle for our minds was lost.

Till this point the fundamental purpose of software was to support the user’s objectives. Somewhere, someone decided the purpose of users is to support the firm’s objectives. This shift permeates through the Internet. It’s why basic software is subscription-led. It’s why there’s little functional difference between Windows’ telemetry and spyware. It’s why leaving social media is so hard.

Like chronological timelines, users grew to expect these patterns. Non-commercial platforms adopted them because users expect them. While not as optimized as their commercial counterparts, inherited anti-patterns can lead to inherited behaviours.

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In his book Thinking Fast And Slow, Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman describes two systems of thought…

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System 1 appears to prioritise speed over accuracy, which makes sense for Lion-scale problems. System 1 even cheats to avoid using System 2. When faced with a difficult question, System 1 can substitute it and answer a simpler one. When someone responds to a point that was never made that could be a System 1 substitution.

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10 Years ago my life was extremely online. I’ve been the asshole so many times I can’t even count. Was I an asshole? Sure, but the exploitation of mental state in public spaces has a role to play. It’s a strange game. The only way to win is not to play.

Commercial platforms are filled with traps, some inherited, many homegrown. Wrapping it in Zuck’s latest bullshit won’t lead to change. Even without inherited dark patterns, behaviours become ingrained. Platforms designed to avoid these patterns need to consider this if exposed to the Dark Forest.

For everything else it’s becoming easier to just stay away. There are so many private and semi-private spaces far from the madding crowd. You just need to look. I did. I lost followers, but made friends.

Source: Escaping The Web’s Dark Forest | by Steve Lord

Are we really calling it #Elongate?

There’s been a noticeable influx of people to the Fediverse over the last few days due to Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter.

What I find really interesting are three things:

  1. Those arriving inevitably compare five year-old, federated, open-source software developed mainly by two people with a fifteen year-old publicly-traded company. The fact that they’re even comparable is frankly amazing, if you think about the money poured into Twitter over the years.
  2. Some people already on the Fediverse seem to think they have to act differently and/or take time to explain all of the things to people arriving from Twitter. I’m not sure that’s necessary. People learn by watching, imitating, and practising.
  3. There’s plenty of people (including me, I guess, to some extent) who are keen to point out that they’ve been around on the Fediverse for quite a while, thank you very much.

There are, of course, many more compatible federated social networks than just Mastodon. Check out fediverse.party!

“Funnily enough one of the reasons I started looking into the decentralized social media space in 2016, which ultimately led me to go on to create Mastodon, were rumours that Twitter, the platform I’d been a daily user of for years at that point, might get sold to another controversial billionaire,” he wrote. “Among, of course, other reasons such as all the terrible product decisions Twitter had been making at that time. And now, it has finally come to pass, and for the same reasons masses of people are coming to Mastodon.”

Source: After Musk’s Twitter takeover, an open-source alternative is ‘exploding’ | Engadget

Mainstream social media is a behaviour-modification system

A couple of years ago I would have said that this analogy of an atom bomb being exploded over our information ecosystem is a bit extreme. Not now.

I’ve said this over and over, that, really, this is like when 140,000 people died instantly in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The same thing has happened in our information ecosystem, but it is silent and it is insidious. This is what I said in the Nobel lecture: An atom bomb has exploded in our information ecosystem. And here’s the reason why. I peg it to when journalists lost the gatekeeping powers. I wish we still had the gatekeeping powers, but we don’t.

So what happened? Content creation was separated from distribution, and then the distribution had completely new rules that no one knew about. We experienced it in motion. And by 2018, MIT writes a paper that says that lies laced with anger and hate spread faster and further than facts. This is my 36th year as a journalist. I spent that entire time learning how to tell stories that will make you care. But when we’re up against lies, we just can’t win, because facts are really boring. Hard to capture your amygdala the way lies do.

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Today we live in a behavior-modification system. The tech platforms that now distribute the news are actually biased against facts, and they’re biased against journalists. E. O. Wilson, who passed away in December, studied emergent behavior in ants. So think about emergent behavior in humans. He said the greatest crisis we face is our Paleolithic emotions, our medieval institutions, and our godlike technology. What travels faster and further? Hate. Anger. Conspiracy theories. Do you wonder why we have no shared space? I say this over and over. Without facts, you can’t have truth. Without truth, you can’t have trust. Without these, we have no shared space and democracy is a dream.

Source: Maria Ressa: How Disinformation Manipulates Elections | The Atlantic