According to that one guy from the trailer, “If you’d like to control a certain population, there has never been a tool as effective as Facebook.”

A few days ago, Netflix Philippines released the trailer for critically-acclaimed Sundance official selection, The Social Dilemma, set to hit the streaming platform on September 9, just a few days away.

The Social Dilemma via Netflix

Directed by Jeff Orlowski(Chasing Coral), the Social Dilemma shines the spotlight on the “dark side of social media” according to those who created it. This is an interesting angle to look at since we rarely get a peek into the real ins and outs of the creation of the platforms where we ignorantly albeit blissfully swipe through, using up hours of our time in a day.

In the Social Dilemma, we explore the boundaries of social media, the nitty-gritty, the heinous activity behind the scenes, and if, in the context of social media as a product, it is still deemed safe for human consumption.


Social Media in the Philippines

Social media has become part of our norm. That is a fact. And it’s especially true for the Philippines, having earned the title, The Social Media Capital of the World.

A projection by Statista analyzed that 90 million Filipinos will become users of a social network by 2025. With a projected 115 or so million in terms of population by that time, that’s a whopping 78% of the Philippines connected within social media.

Sociologists attribute this to the fact that our overseas workers’ population is incredibly high making social media sites a perfect way to stay connected and in the loop of happenings within the country and in your local circle. We have always seen Facebook and other social media as tools of communication and connection and ultimately, a beautiful thing harbored by the onset of widespread internet connection.

So when talks of its negative impacts on society arise, a lot of Filipinos tend to brush it off as very trivial and is all ‘crazy talk’ just borne out of everyone’s fear of the unknown. But we are right to be afraid of the unknown especially if it’s manufactured on a large scale and we’re not entirely sure of how it was manufactured.

This is something that we forget about social media and the sites that they stand upon–they’re still products. They’re still manufactured goods made for profit. And since it is fairly new with Facebook only founded in 2004, it’s only in recent years that we’ve seen the full spectrum of its power.

In the 2016 elections, it is a highly known and controversial issue that the presidential seat was won by current President Rodrigo Duterte via grassroots interactions by planted and paid “trolls” not just hyping up the particular presidentiable but also drawing scandalous but false flack on their opponents.

Since that time, little has been done on the part of the government to investigate such measures in the aspect of its criminality especially since there are little to no legal regulations on the use of social media as a campaign tool. The issue still continues to stir up online debates and many still believe that the paying of “trolls” for propaganda is still being used by certain political parties to date.

We are still yet to hear about Facebook’s side on the issue as well, but since a lot of people believe that Facebook as a company had more to gain from taking the side of the politicians, we’re not likely to hear anything from them at all–until now that is.

One of the things that the Social Dilemma is said to shed light upon is the use of Facebook or social media platforms as a mechanism to sway public opinion on certain political figures, political issues, or ultimately political alignment. Nowadays, it can easily go beyond the abstract and actually influence real-world actions such as riots based on their online interactions. Are we ready to hold them accountable for these events? If so, when are we going to realize this? How much are we willing to take before we demand responsibility?

Are we ready to see Facebook as more divisive rather than a platform that brings us closer?

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