Addicted to the Algorithm: How Social Networks Manipulate Users

TikTok and other platforms are built so you become addicted. No longer following content from people that interest you or you follow but instead being built so you remain on the platform for as long as possible.

Have you ever used TikTok? Do you know why Instagram and YouTube try to be more like TikTok? Its algorithmic feed is the most optimised for keeping the masses hooked and addicted to the app.

You might wonder, why is that? As usual, the answer is money.
The more users spend time on an app, the more advertisers spend money on these social networks. And the more money is reinvested to optimise the algos for even more addiction. That's regardless of ethics, whether the information is true, false, or manipulative.

Throw a bone at dogs and they'll run on it, social networks are corporations and act similarly, they'll chase profits wherever they can.

Strange Changes on Social Networks

Have you noticed something strange happening when you’re on social networks recently? Maybe you haven’t seen the same content as usual, or maybe you’re feeling less fulfilled and excited. Doesn’t it seem like social networks are becoming a place where we mindlessly scroll for what seems like hours at a time? To make matters worse, do you find it hard to turn off the app, explore new things, or just live life without the constant need to watch content that you don’t even care about?

This is the current state of social media.

Platforms like TikTok and now YouTube have been finding new ways to manipulate you through their algorithms and constant feeds of content. This might seem harmless, but in reality, it’s harming users as any other addictive substance does. No longer are social media platforms about finding content that you will learn from, or being connected with friends from around the world. The way social networks make money is by having you the user (or the product) on their platform for all long as possible.

Saagar Enejti from Breaking Points put it perfectly on his show hosted (ironically) on YouTube:

Social networks used to be places where we could connect with friends, stay up to date with content creators we liked, and form communities. That has now changed. Now our feeds are only showing us content that is designed to keep us on the platform. Or they have become public pages where co-workers, employers, and the general public can watch and judge you.

Sure, this is an oversimplification of social networks of today, but the underlining issue is the fact that social media has gone from a fun place to interact, to a never-ending cycle of mindnumbing content.

Why is this a problem?

You might not see this as a problem. In fact, you might actually enjoy this endless scrolling based on an algorithm that knows what you want, before you want it. But maybe you should consider if this is what the internet was made for. Social media was created to connect us, not provide us with content that will get a reaction from us.

Now you might think if the consumer wants it, then it’s a good thing, even if the platform is harmful to the user. But would you say that to someone who abuses drugs and can’t get off them? Or maybe simply someone who only eats at fast food restaurants. In the case of fast food, we know these things aren’t healthy so we ensure we don’t visit them every day. Conversely, we know if we did consume only fast food we would be extremely unhealthy and at risk in the future.

This is where social media is turning into a place where we go on all the time, get no value, and can’t seem to get off. And the only reason the platforms are shifting their focus onto new ways to keep us addicted is because they need our data, our attention, and our consumption to survive.

This is because we are the product they sell!

Misinformation and Polarization

On top of users losing their time due to endless scrolling based on algorithms, we see that this targeted content is hurting our society by promoting polarizing misinformation.  By knowing that someone might feel happy or sad based on a piece of content, social networks understand that they can keep people on the platform by pushing controversial content. It doesn’t matter if the content results in individuals having extreme views or misinformed opinions. It’s only about keeping the user on the platform and targeting them with ads.

We’ve seen the harmful effects of current social networks coming to light in our society today. It doesn’t matter your political view, we all know as soon as we click on one video or post related to a political issue, we will soon find ourselves being suggested even more content with a similar angle. This echo chamber ensures that we only hear one side of an issue and find the other sides abhorrent and eventually evil. The sad thing is that we originally joined the platform to most likely be entertained and find value. Now social media has turned into a black hole where you can’t seem to log off and when you do find your way off of it, you see a world more divided than ever.

Can Solcial Provide Value and Not Just Be Addictive?

Thankfully there is a solution coming via Solcial. We have built the platform with our eyes locked on fixing issues like censorship, monetization, and an imbalance between the platform and its users. By utilizing Web3 technology, we change the incentives for the platform, its creators, and how they attract their users.

On Web2 platforms, they are incentivized to get as many clicks as possible. On Web2 platforms creators often need to misguide you to get a view by using clickbait, or simply make a long piece of content with no value until the end. Solcial changes this.

On Solcial creators can monetize alongside their audience. Unlike on current platforms, we are incentivizing creators to get right to their point, provide value to their subscribers, and build audiences that want to see them succeed. By allowing each user to have their token we change the way monetization works. No longer are creators reliant on a platform to showcase an array of ads to their audience.

Now you monetize instantly and give your fans the chance to earn as well!

On the platform side, we at Solcial have a strong belief in giving the power to the user. We have seen firsthand the negative effects of censorship, but also we have seen how horrible some of these platforms are when it comes to addiction. We are human too and have felt the enjoyment of scrolling on some of these platforms, but also the feeling of having wasted hours and getting nothing for it.

Solcial is built for creators and their users to build community, and find value from one another. No more being manipulated. Instead, you should be in the driver’s seat. Unlike platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Youtube, we are not focused on abusing your attention and turning you into a modern social media zombie.

You might think it's risky to build a social network that hopes to end the trend of abusive algorithms and the promotion of division. In short, we agree that it's risky. However, we think people want to gain control of their lives. People aren't happy on Web2 platforms. They aren't finding value, and they certainly aren't being informed as they should be. This is a risk we need to take. We aren't building for profit as much as we're building for people. This is the key difference and where we think the world needs to head.

So if you think a change is needed, Solcial is for you. We are providing a new way for you to get the content you want and not just the content that keeps your attention.  

Be free - Be on Solcial

About Solcial

Solcial is a permissionless social network that gives users the power of web3 by allowing people to interact with each other without fearing censorship, and allowing content creators to be rewarded fairly at market value.

Get in Touch

Email: [email protected]

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