There’s No Such Thing as Privacy on the Internet
While the concept of internet privacy is worrisome for most adults, The Social Dilemma delicately points out that it's especially problematic for teens. Because Gen Z is the first generation that "got on social media in middle school," they're used to coming home from school and spending hour after hour on their devices.
Throughout the documentary, experts confirm that social media users don't have any privacy whatsoever in terms of what they search or what videos and photos they interact with on their feeds. While that's scary enough as an adult, it's particularly disturbing when you take our children into account.
"I don't know any parent who says, 'Yeah, I really want my kids to [grow] up feeling manipulated by tech designers.'"
Although apps like Facebook and Instagram appear to be free to the everyday consumer, in reality, these technology companies are simply taking advantage of us through advertising. "The classic saying is, 'If you're not paying for the product, you are the product,'" explained Harris, later adding that companies like Facebook, Pinterest, Google, and TikTok are competing for our attention.
"There are all of these services on the internet that we think of as free," explained Justin Rosenstein, a former Google and Facebook engineer who invented the "like" button. "But they're not free, they're paid for by advertisers. Why do advertisers pay those companies? They pay in exchange for showing their ads to us."
When you spend so much time on your phone or laptop, it's easy to forget about the manipulation tactics at play. And kids who obviously aren't old enough to understand marketing are particularly vulnerable.
"I don't know any parent who says, 'Yeah, I really want my kids to [grow] up feeling manipulated by tech designers — manipulating their attention, making it impossible to do their homework . . . [comparing] themselves to unrealistic standards of beauty," said Harris. "No one wants that."