Robertson Professor of Media Studies, Director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. Publishes VQR. Author of four books, including Antisocial Media.
Photograph: Trevor Cokley/Alamy
Within two hours of Twitter’s announcement that it had accepted Elon Musk’s $44 billion offer to buy the company and take it private, the first concerning signs flashed across Joe Mulhall’s screen. Mulhall is director of research at Hope Not Hate, a British antiracism and antifascism group that campaigns against bigotry.
When Musk heralded his purchase of Twitter by saying “free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town s...
Zuckerberg believes in himself so completely, his vision of how the world works so completely, that he is immune to cognitive dissonance.Photograph: Abdulhamid Hosbas/Getty Images
What does Mark Zuckerberg believe? What does he really care about? How could a man who marched in a gay pride parade, who advocated for increased immigration to the United States, who hired a high-profile Democrat and feminist as his second-in-command, sit and eat with Donald Trump?
Why, at a moment of global and na...
A woman touches the Prince star painted outside the First Avenue nightclub on April 21, 2016 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.Stephen Maturen
Deep in the bowels of Paisley Park, the recording studio compound Prince built in Chanhassen, Minnesota, lies a room-sized vault. It looks like something you'd find in a bank, with a big wheel on the door and a spinning combination lock only a few people can open. The walls are lined with shelves, organized chronologically and bursting with unreleased recordin...
Following weeks of public and congressional pressure, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to testify at two congressional hearings next week. The decision marks a shift for Zuckerberg, who just last month suggested that the company's engineers and lawyers were better-equipped to answer Congress's detailed questions. What Zuckerberg seemed to miss when he gave that excuse—and what he now has an opportunity to address—is that the problems plaguing Facebook have far less to ...
Photo-Illustration: Elena Lacey; Getty Images
We might look back at 2020 as the year of maximum screen time. Severed by the pandemic from face-to-face interactions, we have been chained to our devices, making more video and watching more video than ever before. This ubiquity of moving images—this videocracy that first took shape during the aughts, with the rise of data-connected phones, Facebook, and YouTube—has become the chief way many of us view the world. And it's dangerous. We anchor our...
Illustration: WIRED; Getty Images
What if nothing works? What if, after years of scholarship and journalism exposing the dominance, abrogations, duplicity, arrogance, and incompetence of Facebook, none of the policy tools we have come to rely on to rein in corporations make any difference at all?
We have to be prepared for just such an outcome.
On Tuesday a federal court tossed out federal and state cases against Facebook for violating US antitrust laws. The judge ruled that, because antitrus...
Illustration: Sam Whitney; Getty Images
On January 21, 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton addressed a crowd at the Newseum in Washington, DC. She was there to proclaim the power and importance of “internet freedom.” In the previous few years, she said, online tools had enabled people all around the world to organize blood drives, plan demonstrations, and even mobilize in mass demonstrations for democracy. “A connection to global information networks is like an on-ramp to modernity...
Photo-Illustration: Sam Whitney; Getty Images
My late colleague, Neil Postman, used to ask about any new proposal or technology, “What problem does it propose to solve?”
When it comes to Facebook, that problem was maintaining relationships over vast time and space. And the company has solved it, spectacularly. Along the way, as Postman would have predicted, it created many more problems.
Last week, Facebook revealed the leaders and first 20 members of its new review board. They are an august ...
Photo-Illustration: Sam Whitney; Getty Images
Every time Congress holds a hearing about Silicon Valley companies, people mock the legislators for being out of their depth.
Last week’s effort by the antitrust subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee was no exception. "The technological ignorance demonstrated by our elected officials ... was truly stunning," Shelly Palmer, CEO at the Palmer Group, a tech strategy advisory group, told USA Today. "People who are this clueless about the econo...
The hubris that Facebook is here to make the world better is the core flaw in Zuckerberg's view of himself and his company.Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP
Mark Zuckerberg never calls me for advice. But he should. I would tell him to fire his entire communications and lobbying staff. They are incompetent. They have only made matters worse for the company. Did no one think to brief Zuckerberg on the two or three obvious lines of questioning he would face? If they couldn’t prepare him, they never s...
In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives
By Steven Levy
(Simon & Schuster, 423 pp., $26)
The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry)
By Siva Vaidhyanathan
(University of California Press, 265 pp., $26.95)
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For cyber-optimists and cyber-pessimists alike, the advent of Google mark...
by Eric Rauchway
1excellent questionThe New RepublicDrift and Masterysaying
the adjective "progressive" is what we like, and the word "new," be it the New Nationalism of [Theodore] Roosevelt, the New Freedom of [Woodrow] Wilson, or the New Socialism of the syndicalists. The conservatives are more lonely than the pioneers.... For no one, unafflicted with invincible ignorance, desires to preserve our economic system in its existing form.
When Lippmann was writing, there was actually a Progress...
It was like a verbal tic. Last week, in two days of testimony before Congress, Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O. of Facebook, invoked a magical-sounding phrase whenever he was cornered about a difficult issue. The issue was content moderation, and the phrase was “artificial intelligence.” In 2004, Zuckerberg explained, when Facebook got its start, it was just him and a friend in his dorm room at Harvard. “We didn’t have A.I. technology that could look at the content that people were sharing,” he to...
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — On Wednesday, Facebook revealed that hundreds of Russia-based accounts had run anti-Hillary Clinton ads precisely aimed at Facebook users whose demographic profiles implied a vulnerability to political propaganda. It will take time to prove whether the account owners had any relationship with the Russian government, but one thing is clear: Facebook has contributed to, and profited from, the erosion of democratic norms in the United States and el...
One would think by now that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg lacks principles. Since early 2017 he has been caught lying about such basic matters as whether Facebook users have control over the data they generate and has repeatedly failed to confront the damage his company has done to people, democracy and social fabrics around the world.
Facebook shared private user messages with Netflix and Spotify
Yet Zuckerberg has two core principles from which he has never wavered. The...