The designers of this software call themselves “software engineers”, but they are really more like social engineers. Through their inventions, they alter the behaviour of millions of people, yet very few of them realise that this is what they are doing, and even fewer consider the ethical implications of that kind of power.
On a small scale, the effects of software are benign. But at large companies, with hundreds of millions of users, something so apparently small as the choice of what should be a default setting, will have an immediate impact on the daily behaviour patterns of a large percentage of the planet.
At Facebook, for example, they use a term called “Serotonin”, which refers to the bonding hormone released by the brain in moments of intimacy. In design reviews, Facebook designers are asked, “Where is the serotonin in this design?” meaning, “how will this new feature release bonding hormones in the brains of our users, to keep them coming back for more?”