“The stunning outcome of Brexit triggered a hypothesis: in an election context, Facebook may confer advantages to campaign messages based on fear or anger over those based on neutral or positive emotions. It does this because Facebook’s advertising business model depends on engagement, which can best be triggered through appeals to our most basic emotions. What I did not know at the time is that while joy also works, which is why puppy and cat videos and photos of babies are so popular, not everyone reacts the same way to happy content. Some people get jealous, for example. “Lizard brain” emotions such as fear and anger produce a more uniform reaction and are more viral in a mass audience. When users are riled up, they consume and share more content. Dispassionate users have relatively little value to Facebook, which does everything in its power to activate the lizard brain. Facebook has used surveillance to build giant profiles on every user and provides each user with a customized Truman Show, similar to the Jim Carrey film about a person who lives his entire life as the star of his own television show. It starts out giving users “what they want[…]”
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