The Social Dilemma: this new Netflix documentary exposes the dark truth of social media

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Fair warning: you’ll 100% want to delete all your social media accounts after watching Netflix’s The Social Dilemma.

Social media has transformed our life for the better in a myriad of ways, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic

There’s no denying, though, that our growing dependence on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter has become a source of concern to many – and this is something which Netflix’s The Social Dilemma aims to explore.

“Everything you’re doing online is being watched, is being tracked,” a trailer for the documentary, which opened to critical acclaim at Sundance 2020, explains.

“Every single action you take is carefully monitored and recorded.”

Here’s what you need to know about the must-watch documentary.

So, what’s Netflix’s The Social Dilemma about?

As per Netflix’s official synopsis: “We tweet, we like, and we share – but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media?

“As digital platforms increasingly become a lifeline to stay connected, Silicon Valley insiders reveal how social media is reprogramming civilisation by exposing what’s hiding on the other side of your screen.”

Netflix’s The Social Dilemma: Skyler Gisondo as Ben
Netflix’s The Social Dilemma: Skyler Gisondo as Ben

These insiders, of course, include the likes of Justin Rosenstein (aka the man who helped invent Facebook’s ‘like’ button), Tim Kendall (as in, yes, the former president of Pinterest and former director of monetisation at Facebook), Cathy O’Neil (who literally wrote the book on these so-called Weapons of Math Destruction), and Rashida Richardson, who serves as director of policy at the AI Now Institute.

Is there a trailer for Netflix’s The Social Dilemma?

The trailer for the much-anticipated documentary begins simply enough, with someone typing the words ‘climate change is’ into Google. 

Within seconds, though, it explains how you will be served different results based on where you live and what your interests are.

“That’s no accident.”

Check it out:

Who directed Netflix’s The Social Dilemma?

The Social Dilemma is directed by filmmaker Jeff Orlowski, who is perhaps best known for both directing and producing the Emmy Award-winning documentary Chasing Ice and Chasing Coral.

Addressing his film in a statement, Orlowski has said: “The algorithms control what we see, when we see it, how we see it, with no regard for the truth or for humanity.

“These platforms are driven by a business model that values attention above quality, and the algorithms will systematically push users to more and more polarised and extreme thinking in search of anything that will keep us engaged.”

What are people saying about Netflix’s The Social Dilemma?

The Social Dilemma may not be available to stream just yet, but it already has an 86% ‘fresh’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes following its successful premiere at Sundance.

Critics have labelled it an “exemplary” piece of filmmaking, praising it for maintaining its “lively and entertaining” style, despite the “alarming” subject matter.

“Maybe The Social Dilemma doesn’t have all the answers,” says Mashable’s Angie Han, “but it’s a good start to figuring out the questions.”

When can I watch The Social Dilemma on Netflix?

The Social Dilemma will be available to stream on Netflix from 9 September.

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Images: Netflix

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

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