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‘The Social Dilemma’ Trailer: Netflix Doc Details How Social Media Manipulates Its Users

The documentary details how profit-minded social media companies manipulate their users and contribute to conspiracy theories and mental health issues.

"The Social Dilemma"

“The Social Dilemma”


To some, social media is evil, and Netflix’s upcoming “The Social Dilemma” documentary is going to tell you why. The streaming service unveiled the trailer for its upcoming title, which premieres September 9 and promises an in-depth — and thoroughly harrowing — look at how social media platforms and algorithms manipulate individuals and contribute to issues such as viral conspiracy theories, teenage mental health issues, rampant misinformation, and political polarization.

The film’s interviewees include Tristan Harris of the Center for Humane Technology; the co-inventor of the Facebook “Like” button, Justin Rosenstein; Tim Kendall, former President of Pinterest and former Director of Monetization at Facebook; Cathy O’Neil, author of “Weapons of Math Destruction”; and Rashida Richardson, Director of Policy at the AI Now Institute.

“The Social Dilemma” is directed by Jeff Orlowski, who previously created hit nature documentaries such as “Chasing Ice” and “Chasing Coral.”

“The algorithms control what we see, when we see it, how we see it, with no regard for the truth or for humanity,” Orlowski said in a statement. “These platforms are driven by a business model that values attention above quality, and the algorithms will systematically push users to more and more polarized and extreme thinking in search of anything that will keep us engaged.”

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich praised “The Social Dilemma” in his B+ review out of Sundance in January and noted that the documentary offered a compelling argument for viewers to begin thinking about their social media usage differently.

“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,” Ehrlich said in his review. “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. And it will do so in a way that feels less like an intervention than it does a wake-up call; Orlowski and his subjects recognize how the internet has created a simultaneous utopia and dystopia, and they aren’t under any delusions that we’re able to wish it away. Their documentary isn’t instructive so much as directional, and thereby most fascinating for the implications it leaves you to consider on your own time.”

Check out the trailer for “The Social Dilemma” below:

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