Join our upcoming discussion in Spanish about the challenges of social media, starting November 16, 2021
Recent revelations from Facebook whistleblower confirm what scholars and technologists have argued for a while: monetization imperatives shape functions and forms of incumbent social networks, which in turn are leading to antidemocratic processes. These range from the amplification of hate and disinformation, to hyperpolarization, to anti-scientific theories that have regained followers and even violence spinning off to the offline world.
In Latin-America, people spend 3h30 per day on social networks, the highest average across all regions (Global Web Index, 2021). As such, the region is particularly affected by the challenges posed by social media, and has witnessed issues such as rampant misinformation about Venezuelan migrants and refugees, to the rise of technopopulism in Brazil (Giuliano da Empoli, 2019). In the context of Covid-19, research suggests that Latin-Americans were particularly prone to misinformation related to health (e.g. social isolation, vaccine uptake) circulating in platforms (UNESCO, upcoming).
That being said, the majority of content and dialogue produced about the implications of social media is primarily available in English. To contribute to contextualizing the discussion, Data-Pop Alliance and Eureka are organizing a 4-week cycle in Spanish about “Networks’ capitalism: addiction, disinformation and violence”.
Based on a selection including two documentaries, one fiction-movie and one book chapter, we will dive into questions such as: does data monetization imply addiction? How is social media weaponized to generate hate and potentially violence? What is surveillance capitalism and how are platform's business models associated with the above?
The discussion will take the form of a thematic cycle on the new platform Eureka: the first ever film-book club converted to non-profit social media. ‘Thematic cycles’ on Eureka are spaces created for the curious and the experts to dive into a topic, together with a community. Our goal: to foster knowledge and dialogue about topics that matter.
Why does it matter?
Among the online population, social media is nearly omnipresent: ‘95% of the online population uses social websites (Global Web Index, 2021). For better or worse, in most countries it is growing to be the primary source of civic and political information.
Despite impressive engagement metrics (4.2 billion users in the world in 2021, DataReportal 2021), incumbent social platforms are not designed to support deeper discussion that require nuance and attention (instead of clickbait). On the contrary, their addictive immediacy together with algorithms that optimize user engagement KPIs, have favored the superficial consumption of information. Today, as Richard Seymour (2019) puts it: “to inhabit social media is to be in a state of constant distractedness, a junkie fixation on keeping in touch with it”.
Recent studies, illustrate the danger of constant distractedness, suggesting that misinformation is often shared because of failure “to think sufficiently about whether or not the content is accurate” (Pennycook, 2021). These dynamics foster a negative impact chain, since the use of social media for news is associated with being ‘politically engaged on social media’, which in turn is associated with being more likely to “share inaccurate claims regarding governmental affairs, science, and natural disasters” (Valenzuela, 2019).
Why are we creating a new social media platform?
In a context of rising social tension, polarization and pseudoscience, ensuring access to quality and digestible information has become paramount. Eureka (eureka.club) makes the hypothesis that people actually want to have hard conversations about complex social and scientific topics, but they need an appropriate online space to do so. The platform is designed to foster social engagement, especially about sensitive and complex scientific and sociopolitical topics, through cultural and entertainment content.
Our Manifesto outlines how we are building an online space in which content is generated and consumed in a radically different way. Our goal is to foster empathy, knowledge and dialogue, towards prompting 'Eureka moments': individual revelations that transform the collective. Ultimately, we want to foster positive social and political transformation online and offline.
Our priority is to have a social impact, not to generate profits. As such, Eureka is a not-for-profit and non-data-extractivist organization, which is being developed as part of the Tech and Society Fellowship, supported by the Mozilla Foundation.
Interested? Learn more about us here, and join our community!