The Hype Machine

Online

Abstract

Social media has a hand in everything today from the Information War in Ukraine, to the Capital Riot, to the rise of meme stocks and Covid misinformation. It is paramount that we understand the outsized effect social media has on our politics, our economy, and even our personal health—in order to steer today’s social technology toward its great promise, while avoiding the ways it can pull us apart.

In the book, The Hype Machine, Sinan Aral draws on decades of his own research and business experience and goes under the hood of the most powerful social networks to tackle the critical question of just how much social media actually shapes our choices, for better or worse. He shows how the tech behind social media offers the same set of behavior influencing levers to everyone who hopes to change the way we think and act—from Russian hackers to brand marketers—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, 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 a guide to understanding and harnessing for good the technology that has redefined our world overnight.

Email us at digitalinitiative@hbs.edu for information on attending this seminar.

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