Best Of The Web
“In response to charges of fake news and foreign interference in elections, Facebook executives lament that they were blindsided by how their platform has been misused and abused. Such surprise is either naive or a misdirection from a company that prided itself in understanding and monetizing human behaviors.
Unfortunately, Facebook has little control to change human behaviors that they exploit with their algorithms; and regulations will not eliminate the abuse and misinformation either.
Facebook has been a great platform for social interaction precisely because it plays upon our desires to connect and have purpose among our community. Facebook has brought people together with common interests, and long-lost friends have found one another to rebuild connections. The resulting good has been immense as Facebook has played a role in raising funds for various causes that have helped thousands.
Unfortunately, those same human desires and tendencies are a source for perpetuating abuse, hate, trolling, cyberbullying, misinformation, rumors, jealousy and misogyny. Sadly, social media is now a source of public health risk, with documented rises in depression and suicide rates.
At the crux of the problem are natural and well-understood human behaviors, including homophily and confirmation bias. Homophily is the tendency of individuals with similar beliefs (e.g., around cultural, political, race, or drug issues), social demographics and other characteristics to come together.
Facebook creates a natural environment for individuals to opt in with similar others while excluding those with contrarian views. The behaviors on social networks have popularized these terms: echo chambers, consumption treadmill, birds of a feather flock together, and the information cocoon/bubble.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"Political leaders from all French parties, including former presidents Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, joined Jews and non-Jews in Paris’s Place de la Republique to condemn antisemitic acts."
"Eighty years ago tonight, thousands of Americans gathered in New York to rally behind the Nazi Party and its ideals. An Oscar-nominated short documentary retrieves footage of the event, but leaves out the context that gives it meaning."
"The PM has persuaded the religious-Zionist Jewish Home to partner with the Kahanists of Otzma Yehudit. It makes cynical political sense for his interests, but what of Israel’s?"
"IFC’s series Documentary Now! began as an affectionately parodic tribute to the classics of nonfiction cinema. Its first episode, “Sandy Passage,” was a note-perfect evocation of the Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens..."
"Making our choices count is, however, far from straightforward, and this is the subject of Martin Hägglund’s book This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom."
"Teens in the United States are coming of age at a time when digital technology is truly ubiquitous, where smartphones are all of our “constant companions.”"
"...the Smollett story, if the “trajectory” leads to evidence of fakery, would actually reveal something else modern America is about: victimhood chic."
"Cool in the humanities isn’t that different from cool in other areas of cultural life, like planking, hotdog-legs photography, mason jar rehabilitation, and novels whose main character is a city."
"It’s true that high-octane, hardworking child-rearing has some pointless excesses, and it doesn’t spark joy for parents. But done right, it works for kids..."
"Cape Town in South Africa is a foodie destination. Some people in its renowned restaurant industry are trying to spread the food wealth citywide."
"...for many “space expansionists,” escaping Earth is about much more than dodging the bullet of extinction: it’s about realizing astronomical amounts of value by exploiting the universe’s vast resources to create something resembling utopia. "
"After facing persecution in the former Soviet Union and a new wave of antisemitism in the United States, Marya Zilberberg decides to put her Jewishness on display."