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social media

An important read about the role of social media in the global rise of the far right, and how a handful of tech companies are now scrambling to answer for the damage that they’re only starting to acknowledge that they’ve done:

“I’ve followed that dark evolution of internet culture ever since. I’ve had the privilege — or deeply strange curse — to chase the growth of global political warfare around the world. In the last four years, I’ve been to 22 countries, six continents, and been on the ground for close to a dozen referendums and elections. I was in London for UK’s nervous breakdown over Brexit, in Barcelona for Catalonia’s failed attempts at a secession from Spain, in Sweden as neo-Nazis tried to march on the country’s largest book fair. And now, I’m in Brazil. But this era of being surprised at what the internet can and will do to us is ending. The damage is done. I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that I’ll probably spend the rest of my career covering the consequences.”

Read the whole thing.

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The Gazette’s Allison Hanes weighs in on the Andrew Potter debate:

We live in the age of the digital lynch mob, where our slightest missteps get magnified, stupid remarks snowball and ill-considered words live on in infamy. Potter is not the first to be scorched by the blowback from this vicious cycle.

[ . . . ]

The modern tools that are supposed to foster societal discussion have a tendency to drown out dissenting views and become echo chambers of outrage. It is regrettable there can no longer be criticism without consequences, that ideas can no longer be challenged without resulting in a chill effect.

I agree. I also thought Andrew Potter’s column was ill-researched, ill-advised and lame. But I don’t think he deserved to lose his job over it. Everyone — academics especially — should have freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to sometimes be wrong. And if you’re wrong, people can call you out for it. And you can admit you’re wrong and learn from it. That’s how we all get smarter. But to silence voices just because we don’t like what they say? That hurts all of us.

I’m not so concerned with Potter in particular. By most accounts, the guy is a jerk. But in what happens the next time a professor says something that people don’t like?

The “pile-on effect” is one of those unfortunate consequences of social media that is hard to keep in check.

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“I’m Done Apologizing for Israel”

07.22.2014

Whenever tensions rise in Israel, my stress level goes way up as a proxy war gets fought in social media channels. People I respect, colleagues and acquaintances and people I think of as friends, sometimes post things that make my blood boil. So I’ve been not saying very much. Because I know that I wouldn’t […]

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4 more years

11.07.2012
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