Infographic about backend harmful app design

The next infographic I’d like to create is about the other half of the interaction between users and the app. More specifically, not the visible half - the UI - but the invisible one - the logics and algorithms behind that. The objective is always the same: keep the user glued at the screen as long as possible.

Here’s a list of some items I’d like to include in the infographic:

  • Algorithms compute how your home feed is built, alternating joyful (-> serotonin) posts to angry/violent ones (-> adrenaline), in order to trigger emotions that will keep you scrolling again and again.
  • The recommended items on the right (ie on youtube) are computed as being the most clicked ones from all users that watched the same video you are on. Usually the recommended content is not a better version of the video you are watching, but its a more extreme one, in order to attract you and make you click on it (ie: you are watching a video about how to make pizza and the top recommended video is about a girl who ate 100 pizzas in one day, or bulimic people… something that triggers in you stronger feelings).

I like this! What sorts of visuals were you thinking? We could do simple ones that help emphisize what you are saying.

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Thank you! I was thinking of something similar to the previous one…

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@micheleminno I would add

  • Filter Bubble - manipulation of search data based on personal data. It is know mainly for Google search, but I do believe it is general problem as users are usually avoided of content, opinions, posts etc. then preferred ones just because it might force them to spend less time on the screen. And it is quite dangerous in long term because it is crucial to know and think also about facts and opinions of the side you might not like and open and free debate is basement for democracy. You have to listen arguments of counterpart otherwise society polarization without finding acceptable solution is what coming next.
    Here is some more information about it including some figures and pictures.
    Consequences of being locked in any bubble and avoiding different opinions and even truth are very dangerous (all cults, sects, authoritarian regimes etc. are trying hard to avoid different information then “official and preferred ones”). Even if it is just side effect and not direct intention it is very dangerous for society and humanity.

I would add (I’m not sure because it’s in the middle between UI design and app logics):

  • Netflix autoplays the next episode to increase chance you keep watching and after the end of a movie or of last episode of a series, it shows another recommended movie / series you can watch
  • Facebook, Instagram, Twitter autoplay each video in your feed for the same reason.
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Perhaps it would be better to have multiple infographics, one per item, because they are more complex to explain and take place in different contexts (feed, video watched, web search, …):

  • Infographic showing a social media feed, composed with alternatively by very good and very bad posts, not respecting the chronological order nor an ‘affective nearness order’ (let me see first posts by my closer friends).
  • Infographic showing a video being watched and other recommended ones on the right (youtube-like).
  • Infographic showing a social media feed with videos autoplaying
  • Infographic showing a web search (google-like) showing results and the filter bubble effect
  • Infographic showing a video being watched (netflix-like) and timer with next episode starting or other recommended video to watch after.

Doing so, we’d have also more content to post on our social media channels…

I drafted the first one in our canva folder:

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I think all the video ones can fit in one graphic.:blush: Also lets add some sources to these so we gain credibility!

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Also! Is there an actually media sight that does that? Like does facebook alternate posts and make them non chronological?

We could also do one graphic about the “variable rewards system” and design it to look like a slot machine

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Tip: Much info and references already exists on this forum, like studies about how YouTube leads you to conspiracy theories, with data and all… Search here first, don’t reinvent wheels, make cross-refs!

Note that all non-linked data you add will be extra burden for the planned forum overhaul :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


@micheleminno pls see closely related to your topic opening post.

Let’s do this as first backend harms infographic, that’s far more evidence supporting the variable rewards system, than the composition of a social feed in terms of sources of strong emotions (anger / sadness, joy / desire).
Here are some references we can put in the post:


Amazing. I’m gonna be gone for the week, so cannot help out :cry:. Will check out when I get back :slight_smile:

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Highly recommend the slot machine asthetic appearance. Insteas of 7’s fruit it will be Insta, twitter ect

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I was thinking something like that (group of 3 pictures on Instagram i.e.):

with texts that explain the pictures:

  • first pic:

    • the rat gets food each time it pushes the lever -> it does it anytime it’s hungry
    • the food comes after a random number of times it pushes the lever -> the rat keeps pushing nonstop
  • second pic:

    • a slot machine player doesn’t know when the winning row will appear, but for sure it will happen after a lever push -> the gambler keeps playing nonstop
  • third pic:

    • when you scroll on a social media feed, you don’t know when a beautiful / interesting post will appear -> you keep scrolling nonstop
  • fourth pic (only text):

    • The dopamine boost happens each time you are waiting for the reward, not only whenever it will (maybe, eventually) arrive
    • don’t be addicted to scrolling, recognise the mechanism and stop it!

Very impactful. I like it. Make sure it can fit in the square instagram space :wink:


Thank you, @sidnya. I added the texts, could you quickly check them and correct / improve?


I like your text. Would you like me to post these as an album or as seperate posts?

As an album. I’ll post here and on our
github repo the draft pictures.

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Draft on canva and once finalised on our github repository.


Do you find yourself glued to your phone screen and you can’t help scrolling down and down? Here’s why!

#humanetechnow #centerforhumanetechnology #humanetechcommunity
#socialmedia #harmfultechnology #harmfulalgorithms #infographic #uidesign

Check those out: