Author: Alec Cameron Orrell

Twitter’s Micro-Slavery

This is a response to “Who Controls the Platform?“—a multi-part Quillette series authored by social-media insiders. Submissions related to this series may be directed to pitch@quillette.com In his new book Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe, tech investor Roger McNamee writes: “Lizard brain” emotions such as fear and anger produce a more uniform reaction and are more viral in a mass audience. When users are riled up, they consume and share more content. Dispassionate users have relatively little value on Facebook, which does everything in its power to activate the lizard brain. Facebook has used surveillance to build giant profiles of every user and provides each user with a customized Truman Show, similar to the Jim Carrey film about a person who lives his entire life as the star of his own television show. It starts out giving users “what they want,” but the algorithms are trained to nudge user attention in directions that Facebook wants. The algorithms choose posts calculated to press emotional buttons because scaring users or pissing them off increases time on site. Facebook calls it engagement, but the …