The Inside Story of How Social Media Rewired Our Minds and Our World

Carl Miller  at Literary Review:

So the race for attention has shaped the products and these products have shaped what we see. This has created nothing less than ‘a wholly new era in the human experience’. Fisher’s point is that wiring platforms to grab attention has had a series of vast and ultimately ruinous consequences for the world we live in. For what the machines learned was that across an array of cultures and societies, more extreme content wins more engagement. The charge is not simply that YouTube and Facebook have allowed polarising, extremist, conspiracist, hateful material to persist on their platforms; it is also that they have actively pushed people’s attention towards it. Their products haven’t just reflected reality for us all but actually created it.

This is a story not only of technology but also of what happens when it commingles with fragile psychologies and vulnerable societies. The algorithms learned how to nourish dark and dangerous human impulses. People were pulled in as much by anomie as by hate – by ‘content’, Fisher writes, ‘that spoke to feelings of alienation, of purposelessness’.

more here.