The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health--And How We Must Adapt
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Social media connected the world—and gave rise to fake news and increasing polarization. Now a leading researcher at MIT draws on 20 years of research to show how these trends threaten our political, economic, and emotional health in this eye-opening exploration of the dark side of technological progress.
Today we have the ability, unprecedented in human history, to amplify our interactions with each other through social media. It is paramount, MIT social media expert Sinan Aral says, that we recognize the outsized impact social media has on our culture, our democracy, and our lives in order to steer today’s social technology toward good, while avoiding the ways it can pull us apart. Otherwise, we could fall victim to what Aral calls “The Hype Machine.” As a senior researcher of the longest-running study of fake news ever conducted, Aral found that lies spread online farther and faster than the truth—a harrowing conclusion that was featured on the cover of Science magazine.
Among the questions Aral explores following twenty years of field research:
Did Russian interference change the 2016 election? And how is it affecting the vote in 2020?
Why does fake news travel faster than the truth online?
How do social ratings and automated sharing determine which products succeed and fail?
How does social media affect our kids?
First, Aral links alarming data and statistics to three accelerating social media shifts: hyper-socialization, personalized mass persuasion, and the tyranny of trends. Next, he grapples with the consequences of the Hype Machine for elections, businesses, dating, and health. Finally, he maps out strategies for navigating the Hype Machine, offering his singular guidance for managing social media to fulfill its promise going forward.
Rarely has a book so directly wrestled with the secret forces that drive the news cycle every day.