Please forgive the seemingly clickbait headline, but it is factually correct. For all the right reasons, Olivia Munn used the power of social media to organize a “mob” to identify the alleged attacker of her friend’s mother. The information supplied to the NYPD led to an arrest.
Everything about this story feels right. An injustice was done. A famous person with the power to motivate people used social media to amplify their outrage. A crowd was inspired to organize. The crowd did the job it was asked to do. The desired outcome was achieved.
And yet, you are not comfortable with my use of the word “mob” to describe the crowd that was incited to hunt the alleged attacker down. The word feels wrong. You are thinking that I should have chosen a different way to describe this sequence of events; this is a good story about a just cause, and it has a good ending. This was not a “mob;” it was a collection of very fine people who wanted to do the right thing.
I want you to push back hard on this. But — before you do — I want you to remember that the algorithms that “decide” what you see on your social feed do not have feelings or emotions or context. The algorithm does not know what a hate crime is. It does not know good or bad. It does not “know” anything. It simply surfaces content you are statistically most likely to engage with. Now, please reply to this email with your thoughts and comments.
The absolute amorality of engagement-biased social media algorithms will be the main topic of next week’s Shelly Palmer #strategyhacker livestream on Wednesday at 3 p.m. EST on YouTube Live. Get your reminder here. Have a great weekend. -s
Author’s note: This is not a sponsored post. I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I am not, nor is my company, receiving compensation for it.