Max Fisher: “Discussions use our most negative and conscious thoughts, but they don’t care”

Author and journalist Max Fisher, in London (Ben Quinton/The New York Times)
Author and journalist Max Fisher, in London (Ben Quinton/The New York Times)
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Social impact has long been a concern for the public: scientific research on the problem points to damage to the development of young people or to the mental health of the population clan. But the consequences of these platforms go beyond the individual, as observed by journalist Max Fisher. His complaint is clear: social media is like a drugis a kind of medicine for people too Companies know it “and they don’t care”, according to the account Infobae Spain the author. This dependence, multiplied by a thousand, is the cause of the hatred of racism and integration that affects minorities, democracy is not good and drives resistance.

At first, Fisher didn’t really use this platform. “He told me: ‘It’s just an app on my phone, how important is it?’ It wasn’t until 2016, with the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, when the alarm went off. “I think so The internet has something to do with it“The misinformation, the strange behavior and the group of bad guys that came out to support him through social media,” he explained. Infobae Spain. What ultimately motivated his education, today is thought of Networks of chaos (Peninsula publishing house), is its coverage in Myanmar of genocide against the Muslim community of Rohingya.

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“I listened to the journalists who told me that It is impossible to reach people who can trust the information or as a matter of fact, because Facebook has removed them all. I even heard from people who participated in the killing, who said: ‘we are like that Thanks to Facebook for telling us the truth about this minority in this country and that is why it is important to kill them all.’ This and other platforms shared since their arrival in the country in 2012 are messages of hatred and misinformation against the Rohingya people. No matter how much the authorities try to communicate with the companies behind these relations, the United States has turned a deaf ear to the warnings until the end, disaster happened.

In 2018, the UN acknowledged that social media, and especially Facebook, has “caused a great deal of disruption, discontent and conflict, if you will, in the Burmese citizens.” That same year, Zuckerberg acknowledged the platform’s role in spreading ethnic violence and hate speech in Myanmar. By then, it was too late: more than 900,000 people were still in place.

Facebook has its mission in Myanmar, but it is not the only country: Sri LankaFor example, temporarily blocked some of these applications after many people protested against mosques and shops from Muslim businessmen.

“What social networks do exploit and bring out certain instincts and tendencies which we have integrated into our nature, but we know that they are not good, “Fisher denounces. Most are impulses such as moral indignation or “them against us” group, on in which we feel part of a group attacked by a dangerous outside group. “We tried to learn to control them, but the discussion uses them they use them against us to hold us“, explained.

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The feeling of the body think and be angry, especially on behalf of an in-group against an out-group, is supported by incorrect information. “When you take that from millions of people, you see in the space behind that When social media use skyrockets, so does political extremism“Fisher admits. A trend that seems to occur especially in the right-wing spectrum, “because it speaks more in the ‘them against us’ sense.”

The effects are said in our world, but Its results are also found in Western countries. Over the years, anti-aggressions have emerged from relationships that end up supporting “the loudest voices and the collective.” “We saw him with a yellow shirt against France a few years ago,” Fisher recalled. Recently, Europe is facing this with the anti-agricultural movement: among its claims, the reflection chemtrails and climate change denialism. Individuals like Lola Guzmán, who leads the 6F Platform, cries out against the 2030 Agenda and talks about droughts as a plan hatched by the “elite”.

The results of the speech are clear in Germany: With the arrival of the refugees, rumors were created on the discussion that pointed to them as a threat. This led to violent attacks against immigrants. A study conducted by the University of Warwick has clarified the relationship: in the population that is above average use Facebook, against refugees increased by 35%. On the other hand, when the internet failed in these areas, the attack was reduced.

File photo of Mark Zuckerberg.
File photo of Mark Zuckerberg.

Social media platforms are growing and evolving so quickly that it is difficult to keep track of their effects. In their beginning, they were sold as freedom tools that would bring “an era of freedom, reason and understanding.” “I think when they first started the platforms, they really believe his words, that social networks will be good for us“says Fisher. This concept is what allows “them to put this product in a way that doesn’t care.” “They can make the product as addictive as they want and it won’t have problems because they will be good for us.” But after more than a decade of making movies, the terrible consequences of using too much of the conversation and how their algorithms do for these negative effects are evident.

Fisher estimated that it was around 2018 when the company themselves found out that their products had problems. “They started asking their own internal scientists to answer what their products were doing for people.” When they see this, however, they decide not to change anything, fearing that the benefits will be reduced. “We can safely say that now they know for sure, but they just don’t care.“, said Fisher.

Given the evidence of damage caused by Silicon Valley products, many governments have begun to regulate their use and try to limit the negative effects they have on the public. By the end of 2023, for example, The European Union prohibits Meta from processing the personal data of its users to help you promote yourself. The rules of the community have progressed in recent years and may restrict movement forever. Fisher found that the rules have been “pretty good so far,” but they have not changed how the network works, as “algorithms designed to spend as much time on the platform as possible to ask us the simplest needs.”

So, he wonders if actors like the EU have “the power to get negotiations to implement these changes.” “It’s very difficult for them to change the platform because their power over American companies is limited. Depends on the US government What is the level of damage to health and politics that they are willing to tolerate from these companies. “

File: the TikTok logo on the facade of its headquarters in the United States (REUTERS / Mike Blake)
File: the TikTok logo on the facade of its headquarters in the United States (REUTERS / Mike Blake)

Although Facebook Many of these changes have occurred, Fisher reports that this website die. “Their audience is shrinking, it’s getting old.” The heirs of this change are Instagram (also from Meta) and YouTube. In third position, distant but growing at an exponential rate, is TikTok. Its short videos, choreographed dances and an algorithm so good that it can recognize you after a few minutes in the application have made millions of users hooked. Future benefits? “We just don’t know, because TikTok is very opaque, it’s hard to learn“.

With the rapid progress that the platform has had, at the time “we do not have reliable research” on the impact it has on users. “It’s a little scary, because We know it affects us, but we can’t say how“. Look at the latest developments and suggestions these companies have made (for example, Instagram now reduces the amount of news compared to other publications), “We can expect things to get worse.“, language.

The power of technology companies seems to have no limits. Faced with this situation, Fisher found only one solution: kill the algorithm. Those networks stop approving posts and only share posts from friends and family again. “There will also be large companies making billions of dollars in advertising and not all social damage will be removed, but many of them will be reduced,” he defended. Until then, his advice is to drink these things while knowing about their effects. “Seeing that media has a drug-like effect on us is the most important step to combat or at least control those effects.”

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