The Social Dilemma: this terrifying Netflix documentary has left Twitter users terrified

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Basically everyone wants to delete their social media accounts after watching Netflix’s The Social Dilemma.

Updated on 25 September: 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 explores.

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

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

Despite the fact that the disturbing documentary spends ages detailing how we are all addicted to our screens, and how social media apps are making money from that, basically everyone logged into Twitter to share their thoughts on The Social Dilemma.

“Still thinking about The Social Dilemma on Netflix last night. I urge everyone to watch it,” tweeted author and screenwriter Emma Kennedy.

“In a nutshell, we are now the product for business models that rely on clicks for revenue and Fake News, on both sides, produces the greatest revenue.

“We are being driven apart for profit.”

Kennedy added: “There was a chilling moment in the doc where the guy who ran monetisation for FB was asked what he worried about most as the consequence of what they have done.

“‘Civil war,’ he said. And he meant it.”

Others echoed Kennedy’s concerns, with many stating that they felt like idiots for having ever set up social media accounts in the first place.

“Watched The Social Dilemma and suddenly I want to delete everything I have on the internet,” said one.

“We’re doomed,” added another numbly.

And still one more said: “Just watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix… deleting Twitter and other social apps now, peace out.”

Elsewhere, another Twitter user noted: “We are being manipulated and without regulations social media companies will continue to divide for money and splinter our society. This is very scary. I still use Twitter (obviously!) but do not use Facebook deleted it years ago as it was making me ill!”

“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product,” tweeted another.

“Watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix,” tweeted one more. “Brb, imma burn my phone.”

Others, though, couldn’t resist making jokes about the situation.

“Watching The Social Dilemma while writing this tweet,” said one, alongside a string of laughing face emojis.

“Are you really addicted to social media if you didn’t use your phone at least 29232 times while watching The Social Dilemma?” asked another.

And another, sharing a GIF of Parks & Recreation’s Ron Swanson smashing his phone with a hammer, teased that this would be everyone’s immediate reaction to the documentary.

Essentially, then, Netflix’s The Social Dilemma has proven itself to be a must-watch documentary.

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about it (just in case you’ve yet to watch it).

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

As reported on 28 August: “We tweet, we like, and we share – but what are the consequences of our growing dependence on social media?” reads Netflix’s official synopsis.

“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 is 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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