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A landmark insider’s tour of how social media affects our decision-making and shapes our world in ways both useful and dangerous, with critical ideas on how to protect ourselves in the 2020 election and beyond
“The most important book of the year . . . a lively, engaging masterpiece.”—Erik Brynjolfsson, bestselling co-author of The Second Machine Age
MIT professor Sinan Aral isn’t only one of the world’s leading experts on social media—he’s also an entrepreneur and investor, giving him an unparalleled 360-degree view of the technology’s great promise as well as its outsize capacity to damage our politics, our economy, and even our personal health.
Drawing on two decades of his own research and business experience, Aral goes under the hood of the biggest, most powerful social networks to tackle the critical question of just how much social media actually shapes our choices, for better or worse. Aral shows how the tech behind social media offers the same set of behavior-influencing levers to both Russian hackers and brand marketers—to everyone who hopes to change the way we think and act—which is why its consequences affect everything from elections to business, dating to health. Along the way, he covers a wide array of topics, including how network effects fuel Twitter’s and Facebook’s massive growth to the neuroscience of how social media affects our brains, the real consequences of fake news, the power of social ratings, and the impact of social media on our kids.
In mapping out strategies for being more thoughtful consumers of social media, The Hype Machine offers the definitive guide to understanding and harnessing for good the technology that has redefined our world overnight.