“The Social Dilemma” documentary launches for general viewing

Back in February I mentioned a new documentary on the harms of social media, The Social Dilemma, from the creators of the climate hawk films Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral. The film has now received distribution through Netflix and just went live for Netflix subscribers on September 9.

Some extracts from the launch site for the film:

We tweet, we like, and we share— but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media? This documentary-drama hybrid reveals how social media is reprogramming civilization with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.

In The Social Dilemma we hear from tech insiders about how their products are causing unintended harm to people and society. Through our virtual tour we’re inviting others into the conversation, amplifying those helping us better understand the impact of the dilemma and those working on solutions to fix it.

Interview guests in the film include former Google employees Tristan Harris (design ethicist), Joe Toscano (UX design consultant), Joe Rosenstein (product manager), Guillaume Chaslot (Youtube SWE), and Lynn Fox (corporate communications).

As this is an independent small-studio release, the filmmakers have created opportunities for supporters of the film’s message to support the film by organizing an event, which includes the right to host an educational screening of the film for your non-Netflix-subscribing friends. For more information about those opportunities, scroll down to the “Join the Tour” section on the film’s Virtual Tour page. For extended next-steps opportunities, see the Take Action page.

The film has received coverage from a variety of media outlets, both back during its Sundance run and now again that’s been released for Netflix distribution. Below are some extracts from Indiewire’s review of the film during the Sundance run. I’ve also included a link to the film’s trailer… ironically, posted on Youtube. :-O

- Bruce


‘The Social Dilemma’ Review: A Horrifyingly Good Doc About How Social Media Will Kill Us All

Perhaps the single most lucid, succinct, and profoundly terrifying analysis of social media ever created for mass consumption, Jeff Orlowski’s “The Social Dilemma” does for Facebook what his previous documentaries “Chasing Ice” and “Chasing Coral” did for climate change…

While “The Social Dilemma” is relevant to every person on the planet... its target demographic is very online types who think they understand the information age too well to be taken advantage of. That’s zoomers, millennials, and screen junkies of any stripe who wouldn’t have the faintest interest in a finger-wagging documentary about how they should spend more time outside…

Orlowski introduces viewers to some of the most worried-looking white people you’re likely to find these days: The designers, engineers, and executives who invented social media, and then quit when they began to understand the existential threat it posed to all civilization. The guy who invented the “like” button. An ex-department head at Instagram. Even one of the techies responsible for Gmail and Google Drive...

Orlowski’s star interviewee, however, is... Tristan Harris, he’s the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology [and a former Google employee - Bruce], and his measured alarmism serves as a worried voice of reason throughout the film as “The Social Dilemma” strives to bridge the gap between abstract threats and direct consequences. The most overarching of those macro concerns is a free-to-use business model that coerces people into betraying their own value…

Is “The Social Dilemma” persuasive enough to convince a MAGA zealot to stop binge-watching Ben Shapiro nonsense and buy a subscription to a newspaper? It’s hard to say. But the film will definitely make you more cognizant of your own behavior — not just of how you use the internet, but how the internet uses you.


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