Mission & Method of Evergreen: Fixing the Distortion of Social Media


Hatched by Glasp

Jul 28, 2023

3 min read


Mission & Method of Evergreen: Fixing the Distortion of Social Media

Introduction: The Distortion of Social Media

Social media has become an integral part of our lives, allowing us to connect with others, consume content, and stay updated on current events. However, there is a growing concern about the negative impact it has on our perception of the world. The problem with social media is not the content itself, but rather its distortion of reality. By targeting users with tailored content, social media platforms create a false mental model of society, leading to a chain reaction of harm. In this article, we will explore the detrimental effects of social media's distortion and discuss potential solutions to restore our collective intelligence.

The Machinery of Targeted Distribution

The heart of the problem lies in the machinery of targeted distribution employed by social media platforms. These platforms collect data about our preferences, behaviors, and demographics to create profiles that are then used to deliver content specifically tailored to resonate with us. While this may seem like a convenient way to consume information, it actually creates a distorted representation of the world around us.

Perception and Generalization: The Foundation of Intelligence

To understand why social media's distortion is so damaging, we must first acknowledge the fundamental steps of human intelligence: perception, generalization, and building mental models. Perception allows us to gather information about the world, while generalization helps us make sense of our experiences. Finally, mental models aid us in navigating our future. Social media platforms disrupt this process by altering how we perceive and generalize our experiences.

Distorted Mental Models and Collective Wisdom

The public sphere plays a crucial role in the development of our collective wisdom, representing the views and values held by our society. However, social media platforms hinder our understanding of the public sphere by presenting us with selective content that does not reflect the diversity of our communities. As a result, our mental models become flawed, and we lose touch with the prevalence of conflicting views and values. This amplifies extreme perspectives, drives polarization, and erodes our collective wisdom.

Actionable Advice: Cutting the Strings or Making Them Visible

To address the distortion caused by social media, we have two potential solutions. The first is to cut the strings by banning profiling and targeting practices altogether. This would eliminate the tailored content that perpetuates the distortion. However, this approach may disrupt the current business models of social media platforms and face significant challenges in implementation.

The second option is to make the strings visible without disrupting the business models. This can be achieved through transparency in targeting. Platforms should be required to disclose the demographic characteristics of the exposed population when delivering content that is not distributed broadly. By making the machinery of distribution visible, users can be aware of when they are being confined to echo chambers and when they are not.

Actionable Advice: Pushing for Transparency in Targeting

To ensure effective transparency in targeting, it is vital to prioritize clarity and accessibility of information. The current practice of providing basic targeting information about advertisements falls short of helping users understand the broader context. Platforms should disclose not only the demographic characteristics of the exposed population but also how the targeted content fits into the public sphere. This will enable users to recognize when their views are being distorted and promote a more comprehensive understanding of society.

Conclusion: Restoring Collective Intelligence

The distortion of reality caused by social media platforms poses a significant threat to our collective intelligence and decision-making abilities. By recognizing the machinery of targeted distribution as the root cause of this distortion, we can work towards restoring a more accurate representation of our society. Whether through cutting the strings or making them visible, transparency in targeting is a crucial step towards regaining our collective wisdom. By taking action to address this issue, we can ensure a healthier and more informed public discourse for future generations.

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