1 title: Structural Problems With For-Profit Social Media 2 author: Daniel Moch 3 copyright: 2018, Daniel Moch 4 date: 2018-03-22 16:30:06 UTC-04:00 5 category: technology 6 description: Zeynep Tufekci nails the structural problems with social media 7 8 Many of you who know me personally know that I've become increasingly 9 concerned with online privacy over the past few years. It's a topic that 10 is near and dear to my heart, because I think the privacy, including 11 online privacy, is very important to a healthy civic life. I hope to 12 write a lot more about that going forward, but for now I want to 13 introduce you to someone whose work I'm only beginning to dig into 14 myself, but who has an awful lot of really smart things to say on the 15 topic of online privacy (among other things): Zeynep Tufekci. 16 17 I spare you my attempt at a mini-biography, mostly because I'm about 18 the least qualified person in the world to deliver. Rather, I'll point 19 you to this [TED 20 talk](https://www.ted.com/talks/zeynep_tufekci_we_re_building_a_dystopia_just_to_make_people_click_on_ads) 21 that she did October of last year where she talks about the 22 infrastructure that companies like Facebook and YouTube control and 23 how much they're able to do with the data they collect on us. 24 25 Here are a couple of quotes a took down as I was listening: 26 27 - It's not that the people that run Facebook or Google are maliciously 28 and deliberately trying to make the world more polarized and encourage 29 extremism. ... But it's not the intent and the statements that [these 30 folks] are making that matter; it's the structures and the business 31 models they are building. 32 - Either Facebook is a half-a-trillion dollar con and ads don't work on 33 the site ... or it's power of influence is of great concern. 34 35 Her prescription seems on point: "We need a digital economy where our 36 data and our attention is not for sale to the highest bidding 37 authoritarian or demagogue." That's actually just the sound-bite 38 synopsis of her more nuanced call for businesses, consumers, and 39 governments all to work together to determine what our collective vision 40 is for all of the algorithmic magic (read: artificial intelligence) 41 underlying these systems, how they should operate, and the moral systems 42 that ultimately must be coded into them. 43 44 Evangelical Christians in the circles I run in have begun in the past 45 few years to seriously confront the fact that cultural structures often 46 exist to keep the powerful in power. I think a lot of us are going to 47 have to take a look at what has grown out of the combination of free 48 markets and the internet have caused to grow up, and then have a very 49 serious discussion about what might need to change.