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structural-problems-with-for-profit-social-media.md (2672B)


      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.