The human brain is no match for the manipulative powers of social media algorithms, argues The Social Dilemma, a new documentary screened online for Vineyard residents Friday night.

The free screening was sponsored by the Island Wide Youth Collaborative, Youth Task Force and NAMI of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

Interviewed in the film, early Facebook president Sean Parker likens the exchange between platform and user to that of a hacker invading a network.

“You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” says Mr. Parker, one of several former social media executives — from companies including Google, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest — who provide much of the The Social Dilemma’s most damning evidence.

Director Jeff Orlowski also interviewed social science scholars, author and virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier and venture capital investor Roger McNamee, all sounding the alarm on social media platforms.

“They’re in the business of selling their users,” Mr. McNamee says.

But according to Mr. Lanier, it’s too simplistic to quote the increasingly familiar phrase, “If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”

“It’s the gradual, slight change in your own behavior and perception that is the product... changing what you do, how you think, who you are,” Mr. Lanier says. “It’s worth a lot of money.”

Extracting humans’ information and influencing our behavior for profit has created a marketplace that never existed before, says Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff, whose most recent book is The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power.

“It’s a marketplace that trades exclusively in human futures,” Ms. Zuboff says. The result, she adds, has created the wealthiest companies in the history of humanity.

Balancing out the talking heads, The Social Dilemma uses animations and a serial dramatization about a teen named Ben, whose social media use is directed behind the scenes by a villainous trio of manipulators at consoles marked Engagement, Growth and Advertising. Ben’s downward spiral into obsessive video-watching and conspiratorial beliefs earns these shadowy tech-bros a few cents for every click, as they exult in jerking his attention back online and away from class, family and friends.

The film’s interviews make it clear that Ben could be any of us — even many of us.

“You are being programmed at a deeper level, and you don’t even realize it,” says former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris.

“If you want to control the people of a country, there has never been a tool as powerful as Facebook,” Mr. McNamee says. “The Russians didn’t hack Facebook, they used the tools that Facebook created.”

Following the film, Lisa Belcastro of NAMI moderated a panel discussion and question and answer period with the film’s screenwriter Vickie Curtis, digital literacy expert Diana Graber, clinical psychologist Jessica Fortunato and Slow Tech Movement founder Janell Burley Hofmann.

While the film’s drama focuses on a young person, Ms. Curtis told the Island audience that the Baby Boomer generation is most likely to believe misinformation online. Regulation, through legislation, is needed to rein in the platforms’ increasingly aggressive extraction of user data, Ms. Curtis said.

But there’s no need to wait for legislative processes to take their course, said Ms. Graber, author of Raising Humans in a Digital World.

“If we take a step back, educate ourselves and educate our kids, we can be a little smarter,” said Ms. Graber, who advises parents and children to read the privacy policies of social media platforms together.

“If you can do that one little thing with your children, you’ll learn a lot, as will they. Fear gets us nowhere. Let’s start having some self determination,” she said. “We are the master of our tools.”

The Social Dilemma is available for streaming on Netflix.