If You’re Not Paying for the Product, You ARE the Product.

So say the experts in The Social Dilemma, the next film to be presented and discussed as part of The Appreciating Diversity Film Series. Please watch the film and then join us for a talk with Berkeley Law Professor Rebecca Wexler on Thursday, May 13 from 5- 6 pm PDT. Professor Wexler will discuss the issues presented in The Social Dilemma, and what we can do to reduce their impact.

Jeff Orlowski’s film, The Social Dilemma, documents the hidden practices that underlie the business of social media. The more we know about the lengths to which companies have gone to keep eyeballs on their sites, the more we understand:

There are only two industries that call their customers “users”… illegal drugs and software.

— Edward Tufte, Yale University

We learn that the algorithms designed to capture our attention are also profoundly affecting our brains and our beliefs in ways that directly threaten our democracy.

65% of the people who joined extremist groups on Facebook did so because the algorithms steered them there.

— Sociologist Monica Lee, internal Facebook report

Other documentaries have raised concerns about the impact of social media on our privacy and even our democracy, but this film has a significant advantage: the speakers in The Social Dilemma are many of the people who got us here, including top executives from Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and more.

The experts assure us their intentions were good — even the one whose job title at Facebook was head of “monetization”. Yet all are deeply concerned about what they’ve created, and one confesses that he worked all day on making his site irresistibly seductive and then, when he went home at night,  found himself unable to resist the very algorithmic tricks he helped to create.

The most important lesson from The Social Dilemma is that we should question everything we read online, especially if it is presented to us in a way that reflects a detailed understanding of our inclinations and preferences. And we should resist the “attention extraction model” that makes social media seem friendly and reinforcing. As the New York Times advised,

Unplug and run.

Watch The Social Dilemma FREE on your Netflix account, or through the link that will be sent to you when you register for the conversation with Rebecca Wexler. Then join us on Thursday, May 13, from 5-6 pm, to discuss the film, and what we can do to address the issues it raises, with Berkeley Law Professor Rebecca Wexler.

Berkeley Law Professor and Co-Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology Rebecca Wexler teaches, researches, and writes on issues concerning data, technology, and criminal justice.

The Appreciating Diversity Film Series is co-sponsored by the Piedmont Unified School District, the City of Piedmont, the Oakland and Piedmont Leagues of Women Voters, the Piedmont Anti-Racism and Diversity Committee and viewers like you! ADFS screenings and conversations are ALWAYS FREE.