Human nature in an electronic world | Columns

Social media got a lot of attention last week. Facebook and Instagram have been the center of attention from all national mainstream media to elected officials in the halls of Congress. Quite frankly, there were very few surprises in the so-called “whistle-blower” revelations.

Frances Haugen, apparently a member of the “Civic Integrity Team,” told a committee on Capitol Hill that Facebook products “hurt children, stir up division and weaken our democracy.” Did these comments shock you? They didn’t take my breath away.

Before heading up the stairs and down the halls of the Capitol, Haugen spoke with a number of regulators, 60 Minutes and the Wall Street Journal. She said, and produced tons of documents purported to provide evidence, that Facebook was aware of some of the problems and alleged impacts of disinformation. She said much of the misleading information, especially on Instagram, was very hurtful to young girls in particular.

Before I go any further, I have to point out to readers that a lot of what I need to do in my new 9-5 job is to produce informational material specifically for Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok, well that I’ve never been on TikTok.

Social media is certainly a big part of how we communicate today, so I was convinced to embrace it and make the most of it, which I hope to do.

I can truly promise anyone and everyone that I will never produce any intentionally misleading material!

I’ve used this space a few times to warn readers to do their homework regarding some of the contextual information they see on social media. If it’s political, there is a program. It certainly doesn’t surprise you.

It is certainly not surprising that some of the materials may have their origins in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Shanghai or Beijing. Likewise, I hope you are not naive enough to believe that American sources are not producing something similar in Mandarin or Cyrillic.

As far as dividing, or doing nothing to block content that divides, well, we have this article on free speech in our Constitution that allows that. A lot of people like to engage in verbal battles, especially when they are able to hide behind a goofy username or avatar and have an argument with someone across the country they don’t know. not and will never see face to face.

As for the issue of the divide that keeps people “engaged” longer on the platform and therefore exposed to more ads, I hope that didn’t surprise you either.

People love being able to do it.

This is called human nature!

I can honestly say that I have never clicked on an ad on the internet for a product that I did not already know. Those kind of clicks can get you in a world of trouble. It’s a bit like answering that phone call from a number you don’t recognize. If someone on the other end of the phone asks you if you’re John Doe and you just answer ‘yes’, they’ve recorded you – your voice saying yes to one of the many ugly, horrible, embarrassing and potentially embarrassing questions. costly that can be doubled later.

People love to report someone else’s failures and shortcomings, which is made even easier by the potential to remain largely anonymous on the computer.

And when it comes to hurting young girls, the same basic principles apply. If a young girl, or an old man for that matter, is a little overweight, or maybe has a few pimples, there are people who like to make a problem and troll their victims.

I am not here to tell you that our nation is in a state of serious decline, but I am here to suggest that you be very careful in this increasingly impersonal electronic world in which we live.

While Facebook and Instagram were the focus of whistleblower and Congress last week, I suggest you add Google to this list of businesses that profit with every click of your mouse. Have you ever wondered how something you randomly searched for last week appears in ads on your computer?

You can’t even walk into the store and pay for something in cash without being asked for your phone number and email address. They want your phone number to be able to text you the next time there’s a cheesy popcorn sale. The computer already knows what you bought with the cash of $ 1.79 burning a hole in your pocket. They want your email for the same reason.

I got to where, as nicely as possible, I just refuse to give this information to the seller.

Next time I go to the store, I might wish for something a little different, like sour cream and onion chips, or maybe a gallon of cookies and ice cream.

Doug Walker is the former Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Rome News-Tribune and now works as a Public Information Officer at the City of Rome.

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