Tuesday, 28 November 2017 04:46
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Google & Facebook give you a very different view of the world – remember that when social media depresses you

Americans spend about six times as much of their time cleaning dishes as they do golfing, US data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz tells us, but there are roughly twice as many tweets reporting golfing as there are tweets about doing the dishes. The Las Vegas budget hotel Circus Circus and the luxury hotel Bellagio each get around the same number of guests each year, he continues, but the Bellagio gets around three times as many check-ins on Facebook! Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, offers what he calls “digital truth serum” as an antidote to the increasing anxiety and depression this can cause—does cause, if you go by a recent story in The Economist—to the young whose world, increasingly cut off from friends and family, centres around the phone in their hands.

This iWorld, if you will, can be a lonely and sad place if, apart from the fact that you don’t get enough likes or retweets, everyone else on Facebook or Snapchat or Instagram is having a blast while you clearly aren’t. Since Everybody Lies, Stephens-Davidowitz recommends Google as the truth-finder. Just type in “my husband is,” he suggests, on your search bar, and Google will give you the option of—based on what other searches have been—completing the search with “a jerk,” “mean”, “gay” and “annoying.”

Look at social media, and chances are that sentence will be completed by “my best friend,” “amazing,” “the greatest” or “so cute.” People, he concludes after examining reams of data, are more likely to reveal the truth to Google since that is where they go to find solutions to their problems. The pictures we post on Facebook or Instagram, by contrast, are the ones we want the world to see. If people don’t believe advertisements are reality, you’d think, why would they feel everything on Facebook is kosher? After Mark Zuckerberg admitted fake Russia-backed posts on Facebook influenced US elections, though, it’s obvious they do.


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