BBC: Social media apps are ‘deliberately’ addictive to users. “Social media companies are deliberately addicting users to their products for financial gain, Silicon Valley insiders have told the BBC’s Panorama programme. ‘It’s as if they’re taking behavioural cocaine and just sprinkling it all over your interface and that’s the thing that keeps you like coming back and back and back’, said former Mozilla and Jawbone employee Aza Raskin.”
The Conversation: War on fake news could be won with the help of behavioral science. “Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently acknowledged his company’s responsibility in helping create the enormous amount of fake news that plagued the 2016 election – after earlier denials. Yet he offered no concrete details on what Facebook could do about it. Fortunately, there’s a way to fight fake news that already exists and has behavioral science on its side: the Pro-Truth Pledge project.”
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: Your Pretty Face is Going to Sell. “On YouTube, there’s a long tail of content that pretty much guarantees the inclusion of every potential human interest. There are skate videos, makeup tutorials, and backyard surgical removals of blackheads. And yet the presentation of a lot of this content — especially when it’s trying to attract a large audience — is remarkably similar. Everywhere you look, there’s YouTube Face. The Face is hard to miss once you first spot it: an exaggerated expression, an overreaction to a given video’s subject, typically conveying heightened states like disgust, anger, or ecstasy. The assault of a bad smell; a bite of something intensely sour; a faked orgasm; an elbow to the guts.”
WUOM: Anonymity drives ‘dark patterns’ of social media behavior. “A new study by a Michigan State University researcher probes the mechanisms behind the spread of mass online harassment and fake news by looking at the ‘dark patterns’ underlying the technology platforms. In the science of user experience, dark patterns are psychological tricks incorporated into technology interfaces that are designed to get a user to do something they normally wouldn’t do, like buying a product or signing up for a newsletter.”
University of Cambridge: Online tool can measure individuals’ likelihood to fall for internet scams. “The psychometric tool, developed by researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Helsinki, asks participants to answer a range of questions in order to measure how likely they are to respond to persuasive techniques. The test, called Susceptibility to Persuasion II (StP-II) is freely available and consists of the StP-II scale and several other questions to understand persuadability better. A brief, automated, interpretation of the results is displayed at the end of the questionnaire.” The language in the interpretation is fairly academic. I’m not sure how useful this would be to the layperson.
Slate: Lies Travel Faster Than Truth on Twitter—and Now We Know Who to Blame. “A major new study published in the journal Science finds that false rumors on Twitter spread much more rapidly, on average, than those that turn out to be true. Interestingly, the study also finds that bots aren’t to blame for that discrepancy. People are.” Us Terry Pratchett fans knew this already: “A lie can run around the world before the truth can get its boots on.” (Actually the article specifically addresses this kind of perspective but I will always quote Terry Pratchett if given the opportunity.)
Campus Technology: McGill U Researcher: Smartphone Addiction Is Normal Need to Connect on Overdrive. “We stare at our phones all the time not because the devices themselves are addictive, but because we’re driven to socialize, according to a recent literature review by researchers at McGill University.”