ECONOMICS

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

Currency. Sept. 2020. 416p. ISBN 9780525574514. $28. BUS
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Aral (director, Initiative on Digital Economy, MIT) takes readers on a wild journey to explore the role of social media in our lives. The hype machine is “real time communications ecosystem created by social media,” in which users join and engage with one another on such platforms. Drawing on decades of research and personal experiences, Aral ambitiously shows the promises and perils of social media networks, and its enduring costs such as privacy and access. These networks offer new economic opportunities and social mobility benefits for users through the hype machine, but there are still major disparities in access to be addressed. For example, Aral argues that the hype machine’s algorithmic patterns can enhance opportunities for users who have a high socioeconomic standing to expand their networks. Aral advocates for a “healthier social ecosystem” and designing a system that follows norms and strives for collaborations and diverse perspectives.
VERDICT Timely for readers interested in important issues, such as data ethics, privacy, platform policies and regulations, the role of social media tech giants in our lives, and how these tools impact consumers’ behaviors., CA

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