social media

How ‘engagement’ on social media makes you vulnerable to manipulation and misinformation

 Time to rethink your use of social media? 

Wonder why so many Americans are refusing to get vaccinated against Covid-19?

“Our research shows that virtually all web technology platforms, such as social media and news recommendation systems, have a strong popularity bias. When applications are driven by cues like engagement rather than explicit search engine queries, popularity bias can lead to harmful unintended consequences.”

“Social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok rely heavily on AI algorithms to rank and recommend content. These algorithms take as input what you “like,” comment on and share – in other words, content you engage with. The goal of the algorithms is to maximize engagement by finding out what people like and ranking it at the top of their feeds.”

“Evidence shows that information is transmitted via “complex contagion,” meaning the more times someone is exposed to an idea online, the more likely they are to adopt and reshare it. When social media tells people an item is going viral, their cognitive biases kick in and translate into the irresistible urge to pay attention to it and share it.”

“First, because of people’s tendency to associate with similar people, their online neighborhoods are not very diverse. The ease with which a social media user can unfriend those with whom they disagree pushes people into homogeneous communities, often referred to as echo chambers.”

“Second, because many people’s friends are friends of each other, they influence each other. A famous experiment demonstrated that knowing what music your friends like affects your own stated preferences. Your social desire to conform distorts your independent judgment.”

“Third, popularity signals can be gamed. Over the years, search engines have developed sophisticated techniques to counter so-called “link farms” and other schemes to manipulate search algorithms. Social media platforms, on the other hand, are just beginning to learn about their own vulnerabilities.”

“People aiming to manipulate the information market have created fake accounts, like trolls and social bots, and organized fake networks. They have flooded the network to create the appearance that a conspiracy theory or a political candidate is popular, tricking both platform algorithms and people’s cognitive biases at once. They have even altered the structure of social networks to create illusions about majority opinions.”

Currently The Wall Street Journal is publishing a series of articles exposing how Facebook manipulates users.

Written by FILIPPO MENCZER, Indiana University. https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2021/09/16/prc-the-conversation-how-engagement-makes-you-vulnerable-to-manipulation-and-misinformation-on-social-media/#.YUoJfX1MHo4


Source: Financial Planning for Women