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As the social and economic divides between groups grow ever wider, and social mobility declines, the bonds that tie people together, within families or communities, have weakened over time.
At the same time, democracy seems to be broken. Facebook has been taken to task over its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which advanced statistical methods are believed to have been used to influence the results of both the US election and the Brexit referendum in 2016. Cambridge Analytica stands accused of harvesting people's clicks, likes and preferences to steer Facebook users towards a particular view through targeted advertising, as a cacophony of fake news left them incapable of sorting true from false.
Companies - Others - Fact - Behaviors - Share
These companies, and others like them, exploit the fact that our behaviors are shaped by those around us—what they do, what they say, what they think, and what they share on social media—which, taken together, form the science of "social influence."
Yes, things are bleak. But in our new book, Social Butterflies, we argue that there is cause for hope.
Time - Ills - World - Door - Facebook
At the same time as the ills of the world were being placed at the door of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica in 2018, the BBC was filming a documentary in one our old secondary schools in South Gloucestershire, charting the decline over time of the school's budget and performance, and its effects on staff and students alike.
After the documentary aired, many former students took to social media, coming together not just to restore the morale of the school's teachers, but to coordinate an effort to donate time and money to make a real difference to the school—something that could not have happened on this scale without coordination of people around the world over Facebook.
Media - Force
This shows that social influence—on social media or otherwise—can be a force for a good as well...
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