‘The Hype Machine’: A Warning for Our Times

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PHOTO:
Prateek Katyal

When I was a kid, I loved and hated scary movies. I didn’t eat mushrooms for years after seeing a B-movie where eating them turned you into a Toadstool person. Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with the main character named Myles? Even scarier. Against this backdrop, I write this review of “The Hype Machine: How Social Media Disrupts Our Elections, Our Economy, and Our Health — and How We Must Adapt” by Sinan Aral, which publishes on Sept. 15. Honestly, the scenario Aral describes should scare any technology leader, user of social media technology, or citizen within a democracy. To be fair, any technology can be used for good or bad. As a professor in a graduate school class on futures research said, “We have a choice to how we respond to technology.” You have a choice after you read this piece regarding whether you want to maintain the social contract that Rousseau suggested several hundred years ago or not. Because in the end, it is our choice how technology impacts us. The Social Age Aral brings a deep background in social media to this book. He is the David Austin Professor of Management, Marketing, IT and Data …

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