Journalist Carole Cadwalladr1 said it in her TED Talk2, and she meant Facebook. It has been proven since the Cambridge Analytica scandal3 that so-called “social” media are anything but social. They are a catalyst for hate and racism4, give more reach to radical and extremist positions, do not comply with laws5, and prevent public discourse6. They are diametrically opposed to our societal values.7
Free from control and in the fog of opacity, so-called social media do not consider human fates. Target maximization is more important than the common good. Fake news spreads up to six times faster than fact-based news reports.8 Even US President Joe Biden didn’t mince words when asked about the so-called social media’s handling of COVID-19 misinformation:9
They’re killing people.
This is even more evident in the long-term damage that appears in statistics afterwards. Zuckerberg, Sandberg, Page, Brin, and Elon Musk are responsible for the disproportionate increase in suicide rates among young girls in the United States.10 Girls like Amanda Todd11 or Jessica Scatterson12. Doctors and experts see a correlation with the consumption of so-called social media.13
Social media use is more strongly associated with depression in girls compared with boys and cyberbullying is more closely associated with emotional problems in girls compared with boys.
Further studies and surveys for the German-speaking area can be found on the website of the “Schau hin” initiative.14
Since the leaked documents from whistleblower Frances Haugen15, we know: The responsible parties at Facebook, Twitter & Co know the effects16, while publicly denying everything17.
Facebook and Instagram’s algorithms - which tailor the content that a user sees - were causing harm.
“Psychographic messaging” has been going on for at least 10 years. These are nothing more than human experiments by displaying, omitting or repetitively displaying content. Millions of people are manipulated daily without their knowledge. Led into targeted dependence with their smartphones18. An addiction, hidden behind euphemisms like “engagement” or “interactions”. The psychographic19 characteristics come from personal behavior data.
When the first studies reached the public through scientific peer reviews in 2014, the outrage forced Sandberg to apologize20. Not for the experiments themselves - for the alleged failed communication.
The Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma”21 describes the underlying mechanics:
- Increase dependency and usage time through useful tools and dark patterns such as “continue scrolling.”
- Ensure that people keep coming back and bring other friends.
- Monetize participating companies and their advertisements.
Data protection protects people
After a lead time and warnings, our highest data protection officer is now serious. At least the authorities responsible for him are no longer allowed to operate “fan pages” on so-called social platforms.22
The BfDI does not consider the data protection-compliant operation of Facebook fan pages to be possible.
It borders on parody when the Federal Press Office requests judicial clarification here23. At the same time, however, the federal administration prohibits social media on his own devices:
You must be aware that the data may be misused. Some of the servers are located abroad. This is not only the case with Tiktok, but also with Facebook or Instagram.
At the same time, there is an astonishing dialectic in which the need is repeatedly reported to align with people’s media use and to reach them where they are supposed to be.
This painlessness is often heard among advertisers and personnel managers. When I ask them specifically about KPIs24, it always becomes very thin very quickly. In all cases known to me personally, assumptions were based on data that could not be verified by third parties. Issued by those who were commissioned with a campaign. Well, you might aswell ask the wolf in the morning how many sheep he killed at night - it’s just as practical and saves you from counting.
Which side of history are you on?
In this sense,