The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health–and How We Must Adapt

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Leading up to and following the 2020 presidential election, it seems blatantly obvious the influence that social media and “news sources” have on the public’s opinions on matters. It has seemed that “news sources” have always been under attack for being too liberal, conservative, or just down-right incorrect in their messages. Studies performed throughout the years show how quickly “fake news” can spread and its supposed believability to the audience—the way information, true or false, reaches the most amount of people is social media, aka “The Hype Machine.”

Author Sinan Aral, the director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and head of the MIT’s Social Analytics Lab, has put together a thorough book about the Hype Machine and how it has infiltrated itself into our lives. One could say, given the amount of influence that social media has on our everyday decisions, that it is not far-fetched to believe that it can disrupt our elections, our economy, and our health.

Along with text consisting of research, some graphs and figures prove the validity of the proposed claims. Events, such as the current Corona Virus pandemic and both the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, are included. The Hype Machine’s contribution is discussed in detail, including how the spread of “fake news” contributed to their outcome. Everything related to “the Hype Machine” is discussed and analyzed with no stone left unturned.

There is so much information presented in this book; it’s crazy how detailed and precise everything is. Facebook is the platform discussed most, with its many algorithms and stance on current and past events, but other social media platforms are not left out. Algorithms, loops, triangles, and visual cortexes are all at the core of Facebook, but what is most scary (or astonishing, depending on how you view it) is Facebook’s eventual release of mind-controlled software; you will learn about this and much more. Aral presents the information in a manner that is consistently between a general-knowledge audience and an intelligent one. Aral did an excellent job explaining all of the concepts applied to the presented studies in partial layman’s terms, but it makes sense that he can’t keep the “sciency” tone out of his writing. The text is lengthy, but it covers a variety of information.

Given the topic of his book, the audience could likely be not just “smart” people but also those who like to be informed about the inner-workings of public platforms of which they may or may not participate. I would recommend it to anyone even with an inkling of interest in this subject.

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Star Count 4.5/5
Format eBook
Page Count 416 pages
Publisher Penguin Random House
Publish Date 2020-Sep-15
ISBN 9780525574514 Buy this Book
Issue January 2021
Category Technology


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