To quote Shoshana Zuboff from her book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism (2019):
The real power is that now you can modify real-time actions in the real world. (p. 292)
Conditioning at scale is essential to the new science of massively engineered behaviour. (p. 295)
Facebook’s surplus is aimed at solving one problem: how and when to intervene in the state of play that is your daily life in order to modify your behaviour and thus sharply increase the predictability of your actions now, soon, and later. (p. 299)
The fundamental purpose of most people at Facebook working on data is to influence and alter people’s moods and behaviour. They are doing it all the time to make you like stories more, to click on more ads, to spend more time on the site. This is just how a website works, everyone does this and everyone knows that everyone does this. (A former Facebook product manager)
The architects of digital platforms like Facebook have the means and resources to effectively “tune” our lives in ways that shape our behaviour in economically profitable directions—to them, not to us.
Facebook first writes the music, then lets the music make the users dance.