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    attentionsettings.comWelf von Hören11 min
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    • jeff
      Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeReading streakScoutScribe
      3 months ago

      I really appreciate that the author is proposing actual concrete solutions instead of just complaining about the status quo but I don't understand the repeated conflation of Apple and the EU.

      Apple is a private company and can (and should be able to) do whatever they want with the App Store. Making any of these changes shouldn't require the EU's (or any other government body's) permission or mandate. I'm in favor of all the suggested changes but strongly opposed to any government involvement.

      Additionally, I think the threat of persuasive design as presented by the author is overblown. First off, you can in fact just leave. I believe that stating the obvious falsehood that you can't and making people feel helpless is counter-productive to the author's cause. Similarly it's entirely possible to continue using apps like Instagram and TikTok in a healthy manner merely by exerting self-control.

      Persuasive and manipulative design isn't limited to big tech companies. The EU and other nanny states can try all they want to cover the world in bubble wrap but there will always be sharp corners that people need to learn to look out for.

      I worry that coddling people, teaching them that they are powerless to simply look away from the feed, only serves to make us less resilient. We're all cursed with a natural impulse for instant gratification that we must learn to overcome. Take a look at the war on drugs and ask yourself if simply putting up barriers will stop people from getting what they want.

      • BecomeOurBestSelves3 months ago

        Additionally, I think the thread of persuasive design as presented by the author is overblown. First off, you can in fact leave.

        I strongly disagree on that one.

        It guess that you are doing what you write (leave, or exercise self-control). However it a fallacy to assume that other people can behave like you.

        From my personal experience, things are not so easy.

        Leaving is an option, but it may hurt you. I've left Facebook few years ago and didn't join other social media I see as manipulative. This places me in difficult situation, because almost everyone else uses it and I'm the odd one who does not know anything. Since I was socially awkward, this left me practically alone except my family and closest friends. I felt really alone and it deepened my depression. "You're not using Facebook? That's your problem!"

        Exercising self-control can be quite demanding. For some more than for the others. Furthermore you need to be aware what are the benefits for doing so and value them enough. And even worse, when you're in live situation when you need to exercise self-control in many other areas of life, you may not want to waste in on digital life. Self-control can be finite resource and overstretching it may have devastating consequences.

    • thorgalle
      Top reader this weekScoutScribe
      4 months ago

      I love how Welf’s Attention Settings concept takes a serious stab at the persuasive tech issue with a comprehensive set of concrete, actionable interventions.

      Philosophizing on what Meta etc could do to make their product more respectful of attention is wishful thinking. This however is a plausible approach, with huge obstacles nonetheless.

      This concept doesn’t solve the root problem of misaligned incentives due to the advertising-based business model

      It doesn’t, and that is the largest obstacle. But if Apple/the EU could force big tech to give users control, as increasingly happens with “privacy” settings, then big tech will have to adapt to keep their revenue stream going: they have to ask money to compensate for enabled Attention Settings, or deny access to (parts of) apps otherwise.

      Such a regulated environment could lead into an “organic food for the rich, GMO food for the relative poor” type of situation. And regardless, it would hit big tech’s bottom line. But I think those are better problems to have than the status quo, where for-profit corporations steer attention in semi-essential public technologies, with all ensuing negative effects.

      Very large platforms like Facebook and TikTok represent the primary social environment for a whole generation of teenagers. Their current design is a serious threat to this generation’s mental health, yet opting out of the service entirely comes at great social cost and exclusion.

      People have to pay for cellular service, water and electricity. That one isn’t allowed to pay for social media on one’s terms is an extant failure of regulation.

      • jeff
        Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeReading streakScoutScribe
        3 months ago

        That one isn’t allowed to pay for social media on one’s terms is an extant failure of regulation.

        Is there any reason to not believe that people simply prefer the current ad-based model? You said "allowed" and not "required" so I'm assuming you don't want to force people to have to pay for social media.

        YouTube was exclusively ad-based for years before adding YouTube Premium in 2015. Wouldn't any company tap the subscription revenue stream if it was available? My guess would be that either a) almost no one would pay anything for an ad-free Facebook or b) the amount that Facebook would have to charge to make subscriptions profitable would be too high. How would regulation fix either of those issues?

        • thorgalle
          Top reader this weekScoutScribe
          3 months ago

          I did not mean that regulation should universally impose an option to pay to remove ads. I mean that regulation should be in place in the way suggested in the article, mandating a possibility to granularly opt-out from design patterns that can drive engagement unintentionally (infinite scroll, auto-play, discovery home screens…), in the spirit of inclusivity & accessibility towards people who don’t like these patterns. Even if that is only a small set of people!

          Since opting out likely will reduce ad viewing time & clicks, I think companies should be allowed to charge people who activate these opt-outs. It’s also broader than ad-free, you could even still see some ads but hide video suggestions, auto-play and paginate infinite feeds. The price would then be variable.

          Companies are not incentivized to provide this alternative to the all-or-nothing extractive ad model, which is why it probably won’t happen without regulation.