Why does the internet behave badly?

Social media is a bit like a puppy.

When a puppy gets a tasty treat, it thinks:

  • I got a tasty treat!
  • If I do the same thing again, I’ll get another one!

Social networks like treats too. But not the biscuit type. Their treats are when people share, read or comment on something posted online.

The more reactions, the more money sites make from adverts.

Here’s how they think:

  • Look how popular that thing was! 
  • Let’s show more things like that!

It’s all down to a set of rules called an algorithm.

An algorithm is a kind of computer program that says "if this happens, do that."

So in real-life, an algorithm might say:

If you’re hungry, make some toast.

On social networks, algorithms say:

If it’s getting lots of attention, show more of it...

Unfortunately, popular doesn't always mean good.

For instance...

Famous singer A says something rude about famous singer B and this results in lots of views and shares.

Algorithms can't tell the difference between good and bad.

To them, if it's popular, it's good. And sometimes that gets people thinking:

Bad things are popular: If I post bad things, I'll be popular too.

But then they discover that there's already so much bad stuff online, it's hard to stand out.

So then they decide to post EVEN WORSE THINGS!

And if that gets attention, the algorithms start to promote it. Then other people do the same.

Crazy isn't it...but all is not lost!

You can fight back!

  • Don't hate-click: If you know it's going to annoy you, don't click it.
  • Don't share horrible things: That just feeds the monster.
  • If you think a post breaks the site's rule, report it.
  • Share the good stuff

Always remember that if you see anything that makes you uncomfortable or worried, tell someone you trust.

We're better than an algorithm. We're human.


This entry is now closed for comments.

  • View all (3)
  • Comment number 3. Posted by U17466648

    23 Jan 2019 13:58
    people just think that they are cool and they cyber bully and its not fair for the people who have been
  • Comment number 2. Posted by ImaginePonies

    23 Dec 2018 14:34
    I think lots of people, especially kids, copy things that other people do. So if one person posts something nasty, other people will do the same.
  • Comment number 1. Posted by Olivia

    15 Nov 2018 15:25
    Thank-you for doing these videos