Big Data & WMDs: Manipulative Information Feeder

It is clear to see that Social Media is prevalent in most people’s lives. In chapter 10 of “Weapons of Math Destruction (WMD),” Cathy O Neil addresses how models manipulate the information that people can view on their social media. Facebook is one of the dominant social media platforms that is widely used today. With access to a large amount of data from its users, it can encourage (or manipulate) its users to take specific actions such as voting during the elections. Not only can they manipulate us to take certain actions, but Facebook can also change our behavior based on what type of information we see in our newsfeed. Facebook can shape an entire population’s opinions based on the information they provide, which can then affect other factors such as government elections and politics. In conclusion, while Facebook is not yet a WMD, it has an enormous power to influence how people feel, learn, and behave, which means that its potential to threaten society is significant.

One way to abuse Facebook’s systems is through the use of fake news. Even if the fake news has been exposed to the public as misinformation, there are still people who will continue to believe such news. One of the reasons they continue to believe fake news is that even if the fake news is removed, users who have already seen it will not receive any articles informing them of the truth of the fake news that they believe in their news feed. This type of abuse is not only possible in Facebook, but other large platforms that share similar information manipulation systems, such as Google, are also prone to this abuse. From this abuse, a model can turn into a WMD and have a significant scale across many users.

Undergraduate majoring in Computer Science and Minoring in Mathematics