A new study from Yale University has found that common social media features like “sharing” and “likes” are unintentionally training users to act outraged online, the reason being that other users are more likely to engage with posts that are more extreme. Users who like and share these posts have the side effect of teaching the person they “liked” to keep posting similar materials.
This analysis was joined by a study of participants in controlled experiments, ultimately finding that the “basic design of social media,” including its algorithms, teaches some users to express more outrage online. The researchers point out that outrage can be both good and bad, at times seeking justice for legitimate transgressions, but at other times being used to bully, spread fake news, and increase polarization among political groups.
It is not surprising or “shocking”. Social media depends on increased engagement with the users, and therefore “investor dollars”. I have been calling out against Twitter being re-fashioned for medical “education” – it does nothing but hide under algorithmic mess. There are better avenues without the public glare or even the algorithms. Yet, there is an intense desire to remain visible and “own the platform”. Twitter is merely an ad platform that has the flexibility to “serve the use cases” without being effective. Twitter suggestions run on my timeline, which have no direct bearing on how I consume content. I only use it sparingly (in the manual mode) but automate bulk of the operations.
I couldn’t find the original link to the study- there was a press release. The study offers nothing new/relevant and encourages users to “follow the Twitter handle of the researchers”. I consider this hypocrisy and prefer to call them out on their transgressions. I wonder what new instruments were designed/implemented, and if people understand there is no obvious benefit to social media, why do they consider this a required mandate to tick off their presence?
Some things I’d never understand.