Dalton Edwards Blog

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Unsocial Media

10 months ago

Today I am going to be discussing social media, or as I like to call it "unsocial" media. We've been exposed to this technology a large part of our lives; to the point where it feels like second nature. Scrolling through feeds all day and replacing meaningful relationships with likes and follows. To put it simply social networks today aren't communication tools - they are dopamine machines engineered to keep us online as long as possible (with a bit of surveillance sprinkled in).

How could we know something is wrong when we've never known anything else? Social media should be about more than mindless scrolling, and it should encourage responsible use.

More importantly social networks should respect your privacy. Say no to mass surveillance in the name of communication. In 2019 Facebook was paying teens to install a VPN on their devices that was tracking all their info. In 2019 Facebook was also fined $5 billion by the FTC due to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Just this year the phone numbers and personal data of 533 million Facebook users were leaked online.

Did you know that in 2012 Facebook was conducting secret psychological tests on their users? The test involved reducing the number of positive messages displayed in feed to see if it made people post more negatively. Same thing with less negative messages to see if it made people post more positively. Facebook manipulated the emotions of almost 700,000 people; how many of those people were driven to depression or worse? Facebook has a whole team who’s job it is to exploit human psychology and make the app as addicting as possible.

I know what you’re thinking - “I’m in control, I’m not addicted to social media”. I hate to break it to you but chances are if you’re reading this you’re addicted to social media to some degree. This isn’t your fault - the technology around us is engineered to suck us in.

My project Vers is going to change social media for the better. First and foremost it’ll be a communication tool. No mass surveillance and no manipulative bullshit. Vers encourages you to put your mental health first with intelligent features designed to help you browse social media safely.