The Trust Engineers – Radiolab

I have long enjoyed RadioLab stories and this one really piqued my interest. It begins with a discussion of the enormity of the Facebook – 1.3 billion active users – and proceeds to discuss user complaints about content.

The story then morphs from dealing with complaints about unwanted content (using inappropriate channels) to nudging users into dealing directly with their friends over the undesirable image or comment. Good so far.

Through the investigation it is revealed that almost certainly all Facebook users have been unwitting participants in simple social engineering experiments perpetrated by the Facebook “Trust Engineers”.

Initially I was intrigued by the immense opportunities Facebook presents to researchers. Social scientists rarely have the opportunity to study the response of such large numbers of people.

The story finishes with a little experiment conducted to increase voter turnout by applying some social pressure indicating that your friends have voted therefore so should you. The result was a 3% increase in voter turn out (or about 340,000 voters in the region tested).

This could change the outcome of an election.

About blognobody

Interested in the world around me and the development of knowledge.
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