Družbena omrežja: Od samopoganjujočih se tovarn sovražnega govora do orožja za množične manipulacije

Nova študija (William Brady & Molly Crockett; Yale) je dala zelo preprosto razlago, zakaj so družbena omrežja postala sodobne tovarne sovražnega govora oziroma zakaj se v njih potencirajo moralistični izrazi ogorčenja. Gre preprosto zato, da se uporabniki sproti učijo “jezika”, ki je nagrajen z naraščajočim številom “všečkov” in “delitev“. Raziskovalca sta (z analizo 12,7 milijona tvitov od 7.331 uporabnikov Twitterja) pokazala, da spodbude družbenih medijskih platform, kot je Twitter, res spreminjajo način objave. Uporabniki, ki so prejeli več »všečkov« in »retvitov«, ko so v tvitu izrazili ogorčenje, so v kasnejših objavah bolj verjetno izrazili ogorčenje. Nagrajevanje za izražanje ogorčenja je sčasoma povečalo izražanje ogorčenja uporabnikov.

Uporabniki so nagrajeni z osnovnim dizajnom, zaradi katerih so elektronska družbena omrežja bila razvita, kar družbena omrežja pelje globoko onstran nevtralnih platform. Twitter je tako postal samopoganjujoča se tovarna sovražnega govora.

In kar je ključno: medtem ko lahko tehnološka podjetja z oblikovanjem svojih platform (algoritmov) vplivajo na obnašanje njihovih uporabnikov, pa lahko “naročniki s posebnimi interesi” (marketinška podjetja, politične stranke, vlade itd.) prek tehnoloških rešitev teh platform vplivajo na uspeh ali neuspeh kolektivnih gibanj. Lahko jih inicirajo, lahko jih spodbudijo in lahko prek njih dosežejo željen rezultat (tudi zmago na volitvah). Družbena omrežja so se tako postopoma razvila v orožje za množične manipulacije.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter argue that they merely provide a neutral platform for conversations that would otherwise happen elsewhere. But many have speculated that social media amplifies outrage. Hard evidence for this claim was missing, however, because measuring complex social expressions like moral outrage with precision poses a technical challenge, the researchers said.

To compile that evidence, Brady and Crockett assembled a team which built machine learning software capable of tracking moral outrage in Twitter posts. In observational studies of 12.7 million tweets from 7,331 Twitter users, they used the software to test whether users expressed more outrage over time, and if so, why.

The team found that the incentives of social media platforms like Twitter really do change how people post. Users who received more “likes” and “retweets” when they expressed outrage in a tweet were more likely to express outrage in later posts. To back up these findings, the researchers conducted controlled behavioral experiments to demonstrate that being rewarded for expressing outrage caused users to increase their expression of outrage over time.

The results also suggest a troubling link to current debates on social media’s role in political polarization. Brady and his colleagues found that members of politically extreme networks expressed more outrage than members of politically moderate networks. However, members of politically moderate networks were actually more influenced by social rewards.

“Our studies find that people with politically moderate friends and followers are more sensitive to social feedback that reinforces their outrage expressions,” Crockett said. “This suggests a mechanism for how moderate groups can become politically radicalized over time — the rewards of social media create positive feedback loops that exacerbate outrage.”

The study did not aim to say whether amplifying moral outrage is good or bad for society, Crockett stressed. But the findings do have implications for leaders who use the platforms and policy makers who are considering whether to regulate them.

“Amplification of moral outrage is a clear consequence of social media’s business model, which optimizes for user engagement,” Crockett said. “Given that moral outrage plays a crucial role in social and political change, we should be aware that tech companies, through the design of their platforms, have the ability to influence the success or failure of collective movements.”

She added, “Our data show that social media platforms do not merely reflect what is happening in society. Platforms create incentives that change how users react to political events over time.”

Vir: YaleNews

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