Artwork: Freya Jean

‘Media Manipulators’ – How Big Tech Companies Are Brainwashing You

How Gen Z are actually some of the easiest consumers to exploit and why you are included in that demographic.

Sanskruti Banerjee

So, a MEDIA MANIPULATOR? Let’s be real; you probably spend hours creating your ‘perfect aesthetic’ on Pinterest, tapping non-stop through people you haven’t even spoken to’s Instagram stories or best of all keep diving deeper and deeper into your TikTok FYP.

Why GEN-Z is stupid

Harsh but true. First of all, our attention spans are close to those of a squirrel. Scientifically speaking around 2.7 minutes which is just appalling. Short term memory loss like Dory? I think not. Quite frankly, the fact that the thought of a library or reading disgusts about 60% of us is such a red flag, yet we can spend hours scrolling through meaningless posts, tarot card readings, celebrity reviews and more? Big tech companies KNOW this and use it to their advantage when they cater their content, media and products for us specifically…

Gen-Z is also actually really easy to please. Get something that’s easy to use, have a few “influencers” hop on board and the next day every single person has the app, the service, or the platform on their phone. We follow trends like moths drawn to a flame.

How Big Tech Companies Do It

Now I’m not just being cynical for no reason…let’s take a deep dive into HOW exactly big tech or media companies do this shall we?


Starting with the most popular. Tiktok knows that users are vulnerable to a ‘single click attack.’ With one scroll you go from one short sharp video to the next, on a For You Page that is customised for you and your interests. Have a weird fetish for shirtless guys cooking? Ever wanted to crochet a little bucket hat for a duck? Apartments you can’t afford? Tiktok has something for everyone.

The way TikTok does their algorithm is actually top secret (surprise surprise) but it attacks the fact that we can’t focus for more than a few minutes. Ironically, the time you spend scrolling probably goes from like thirty minutes to three hours but YOU won’t realise that, and if you did, would that stop you anyway? Whether it’s accounts you’ve interacted with by liking, commenting or reposting—TikTok keeps deeply analytical records to make you see exactly what you want to see.


Instagram is more of the cool cousin you can’t get enough of being around. Firstly, Instagram incorporates a knock-off version of TikTok inside their own app known as “reels.” Gen-Z has claimed that all people who use reels are apparently boomers (ouch because I use reels sometimes). Whether it’s messaging friends, watching videos, or posting about yourself—Instagram is an all encompassing app with everything in one place. The beauty of this app lies in its sheer simplicity. Gen-Z fundamentally according to Instagram creators is “lazier than past generations.” Right, so if you have something easy to click onto and the world is at your fingertips…of course you’d download it.


Snapchat stands out a little from the others as it provides an app where you take pictures of yourself, what you are doing in the moment and send them to friends, family or anyone really. Once again Instagram filters have taken this and added it to their own app. Snapchat streaks are outdated now and if you still do them, I worry for you.


Now we move to an app that is NEW and refreshing. BeReal creators have said they wanted to create something newer that Gen-Z all picked up on. Exploitation factor? Our deep need to prove to the world that we are living a life worth living, one that’s fun, exciting or REAL. Who is the real you? BeReal lets you take photos at a specific moment in time and as soon as a few people had this app, word of mouth now means a solid 60% of us pause in the middle of an audition, ordering food, or class and yell “IT’S BE-REAL TIME!!!”

Mind Manipulation

The thing with these technological algorithms is that they are intelligent but blind. You’ve probably heard of the saying; the blind leading the blind; this is more like the powerful and clever leading the blind (that’s us).

Pioneers behind virtual reality, social media, and technology wonder if these advancements in social media are beneficial, or if they just lead to addiction and mind manipulation. Is it the progression of the world, or a money making scheme? The sinister ways these companies exploit you through their algorithms means you are revealing information about yourself indirectly to them. Every small action you take on an app means you knowingly or unknowingly add to your digital footprint. Your attention is grasped and then held by these companies. What you eat, how you look, what your interests are—it’s all with them. The susceptibility of Gen Z to their subconscious manipulation is so fine it almost goes unnoticed. So what happens to this data? The algorithms create feeds, add stimuli, and both paid and unpaid ads feature too.

Big-tech companies have fun and enjoy experimenting with ways to use information to MODIFY our behaviour so we do exactly what they want. To keep us using an app more and more, to respond to an advertisement, or to even vote. How does it feel knowing that you’re the product of not just one but multiple experiments?

I mean, at the end of the day this is all because of capitalism right? Big tech companies make apps, you use them every day, they make money and boom the cycle goes on and on and on. This dark side probably won’t even make you second guess when you next pick up your phone…but just know you are making it oh so easy for them to use and benefit off of you :))