Netflix doc ‘The Social Dilemma’ convinced Parler app to stop calling members ‘users’
The wildly popular Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” tackles the negative impact social media can have on people, and one platform is already planning to make changes as a result.
“I hate the term ‘users’ now,” Parler CEO John Matze told Fox News.
“They made a good point in the film, which was that users are like drug addicts… users are people who are addicted to something. The only two people that call their customers users are drug dealers and social media,” Matze said. “So we are going to be redefining the term ‘user’ anywhere we have it on our app to be ‘people’ or ‘citizens.’”
Matze said the change will likely take several weeks because of logistics and the need for it to be “translated to every language,” but he feels it’s worth the effort to change the way people are described on his platform.
“We’re people, this is a community. This isn’t a bunch of drug addicts addicted to this thing that we’re trying to milk for information,” Matze said. “This is supposed to be people, so that was a very excellent point [the film] made.”
“The Social Dilemma” features a variety of Silicon Valley insiders explaining the dark side of social media, with everyone from the co-inventor of Facebook’s “like” button to high-powered executives weighing in.
Former Google employee Tristan Harris, who is featured throughout the film, has been an outspoken critic of the tech companies using psychology to influence consumers. “The Social Dilemma” documents how he attempted to change the industry from the inside, which included making a presentation that he distributed around Google staffers.
“It basically just said, ‘Never before in history have 50 designers, 20 to 35-year-old white guys in California, made decisions that would have an impact in two billion people,’” Harris said in the film. “Two billion people will have thoughts that they didn’t intent to have because a designer at Google said, ‘This is how notifications work on that screen that you wake up to in the morning.’”
Netflix bills the film as a “documentary-drama hybrid” that “explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations.” It features both documentary-style interviews and narrative drama that reinforces the various points made by concerned tech industry experts.
Matze’s looming changes to Parler were inspired by a portion of the film that quotes Yale professor Edward Tufte saying, “There are only two industries that call their customers ‘users’: illegal drugs and software.” The quote is displayed onscreen during the film to introduce a portion of the “The Social Dilemma” that features tech insiders admitting they’re addicted to various social media platforms.
The film largely focuses on mainstream social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook, while Parler is an up-and-coming alternative that puts an emphasis on free speech and promises not to censor its “people.”
Matze’s Parler has seen an increase in popularity lately, especially among conservatives who disagree with Twitter’s rules and regulations.
“The Social Dilemma” is now streaming on Netflix.