‘These companies will do anything to get advertising in front of us’

“I think we’re on the cusp of massive societal change,” Todd Sampson, writer and creator of Mirror Mirror: Love & Hate, told Mumbrella. “We’re reaching a sort of awakening where people are seeing the connection between mental health, suicide and ADHD, and all of those things are now being associated with and provided around our internet use.”

“I also think there will be a corporate revolution, not a societal change,” Sampson explained, adding, “but a corporate revolution with corporate responsibility, especially around privacy, which has been traded very loosely up until now.”

There is no doubt that the internet is the most powerful mind-altering thing on earth. The World Wide Web is certainly influencing how we treat each other and how we love and hate, but what impact will this have on our future and what does this mean for advertisers?

Over two nights, in a Baltimore Films production for Network 10, Sampson explores how the Internet is changing us and what we can do about it. But the question remains, are we too late?


“At Mirror Mirror, we focused mainly on the impact of the internet and how it’s changing our children, our attitudes and our thinking,” he said. “At the core is advertising, the attention-based advertising model where these companies will do just about anything to hold our attention long enough to see ads in front of us. And that comes at a huge cost. And it’s only now that we’re realizing, and the research is coming in, to explain what those costs are.”

“I’m not against technology and certainly not against advertising. It’s been my career for most of my life. But how much does it all cost?” said Sampson. “There was a period where Mark Zuckerberg came out and said 80% of all new advertising dollars were spent on Facebook. OK, what’s the cost? And you could argue that we might be wasting a generation of children in the name of their profit. And it’s a monopoly.”

Sampson explained that as consumers turn to them for change and regulation, trust in a company becomes increasingly important.

“We, as consumers, are going to look for companies that keep our trust and look for companies that know when and how to draw boundaries and say, ‘okay, we’re not going to sell your data to Facebook’ or ‘we will not allow you to only advertise to fans if your programmatic will only land you there,” he said. “We won’t just follow the machines, we won’t just follow the algorithm.” I think we will find another generation of digitally savvy companies that will take responsibility for customers. And I think these companies will have a reputation that people will be attracted to.”

Looking back, Sampson noted that regulating the internet was a priority after his months of research while making the film.

“I believe regulation is on the way, and I want regulation when it comes to the Internet,” Sampson said. “I’m not pro-regulation in general because I’m not pro-government in general because I don’t think they’re necessarily the best regulators on the planet. But when it comes to the internet, 4.6 billion people are now engaged in a social experiment controlled by a handful of white American men. They are entirely under Section 230, unregulated. They are considered neutral media.”

In the second episode, Sampson explores the world of the metaverse, specifically the primary motivations behind its creation.

“Right now, Google mostly controls Facebook because that’s the channel. Google and Apple in particular are arguably the two strongest forces out there from a tech perspective. And these, especially now Apple, and you can see Apple just went public with all their privacy ads, so clever,” he admitted. “And so Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook and all social media love to bypass cell phones because the biggest impact cell phones could have on Facebook is ad blocking.

Sampson said if they do, “Facebook is in big trouble.”

“So Facebook wants to take us off mobile and into the metaverse,” he said, adding, “That’s why they bought Oculus, a company that makes virtual reality headsets.”

“The issues of the Metaverse as we deal with in the film, one of the developers and creators of the Metaverse went into the Metaverse in one of their trials and within 20 minutes of being there was raped by a group because they are now the Imagine problems of anonymity, anonymity and invisibility,” he said.

From personal experience, Sampson said virtual websites are uncomfortably addictive and scary. “I went into one of these virtual sites, chat sites, one of their models, and it was crazy, and most of all, it was incredibly addictive. But again within minutes I saw these people following these kids into the corner and it’s going to take what we know and amplify the negative. And that’s scary.”

At the start of the two-part series, Sampson said the opening scene was confrontational and will shock viewers, but believes there’s a need to show it unfiltered what it’s like to warn parents of the dangers lurking on the internet.

“The opening scene of Monday’s episode is huge, it’s shocking. We barely got it at 7:30 p.m. on commercial television, but we felt it was so important to show parents the world they live in, even if people are shocked by it,” Sampson said. “There are two different worlds at play. There’s a whole generation of kids, including my daughter, who live online. That’s all for her. And then there’s us, another generation that had the opportunity, you know, we were before the internet or before mobile internet and we know the world without it. My children don’t. And my biggest concern is that it’s one of the driving forces of the show, are we wasting a generation of kids? Are we wasting a generation of children?”

“We can do a lot. In the series we came up with a lot of techniques and a lot of things that we could use,” he added. “And I think that companies and those who advertise on these media will also put pressure on these companies. They will put pressure on these companies to do the right thing.”

Mirror Mirror: Love & Hate begins Monday 10th October and continues Tuesday 11th October at 7:30pm on Ten and 10 Play.