Ask yourself: do you like being angry?
Now ask yourself one more time: do you like being angry?
Ask yourself a third time. Really ask yourself: do you like being angry?
Sometimes you have to ask yourself a question over and over before you get to the truth of how you feel. In this case, three times probably isn’t enough to realize that you secretly enjoy being angry. That’s because anger is an incredibly useful way of hiding things you don’t want to deal with: pain, difficultly with being vulnerable in relationships, and more. Anger also masks very complicated emotions you might not want to confront. Think of the last time you got angry with someone. Picture scene as vividly as you can, paying particularly attention to how you felt right before you got angry. Were there other emotions there? Guilt? Sadness? Anxiety? Anger sometimes flares up to prevent us from feeling things we don’t want to feel.
But anger does something even more complicated in our psyches. It makes us feel better about a situation, whatever the situation. We get to clearly define the world in two camps: the perpetrator and the victim. The world makes more sense when you’re angry, and everything is in it’s right place––especially you, you’re the innocent one. And that inspires you. It makes you feel more powerful and willing to take action.
Enter anger in politics. If you feel like politics have gotten really angry, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re part of the “exhausted majority”––a whopping 67% of Americans who are so tired of the bitterness in politics. Speaking as someone who is definitely Reddit threadpart of that exhausted minority, it’s still easy to feel the pull of anger. Thousands––perhaps hundreds of thousands––of Americans are ready to protest as a result of Jeff Sessions’s firing and the threat that represents to the Mueller organization. CNN’s White House correspondent had his press credentials removed, and we recommend that you don’t read the about that piece of news, otherwise you might find your anger getting up.
The problem is that anger is a very compelling emotion, and anger breeds more anger. The more we use anger to paint our political rivals as perpetrators and ourselves as villains, the more we start to see the world through that lens. As a natural result of that kind of worldview, we get angrier. What’s my proposed solution? To quote Bob Newhart, just stop it. When you find yourself getting angry about politics, ask yourself a few questions: what other emotions might I be feeling? What harm might this anger be doing to me or to others? Is anger benefitting me in some way, healthy or unhealthy? What could I do to channel this anger appropriately and constructively?Read More
Less than twenty-four hours after the polls closed on the 2018 midterm elections, President Trump asked for Jeff Sessions’s resignation, which Sessions delivered. The move immediately sparked criticism from Democrats, who believe that this might be Trump’s first step towards stopping the Mueller investigation. The New York Times noted that “Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, who said in 2017 that there would be “holy hell to pay” if Mr. Trump fired his attorney general, offered no criticism of the president on Wednesday.”
The New York Times compared Sessions’s firing to Rumsfeld’s in 2006: “The abrupt ouster of Mr. Sessions resembled in some ways the decision by President George W. Bush to oust Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in 2006 the day after a similar electoral defeat in midterm elections. In that case, Mr. Bush was attempting to mollify his critics. Mr. Trump’s decision to fire Mr. Sessions appeared likely to inflame his adversaries on Capitol Hill.” It seems most likely that Trump has been waiting to fire Sessions, but the Republican Party prevented him from doing so for fear of massive electoral fallout.
According to “David Laufman, a former high-ranking DOJ official who oversaw parts of the Russia investigation in his role as chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, said Trump’s ‘installation of a political loyalist who previously questioned the merits of the special counsel investigation must be viewed precisely for what it is: a preliminary assault on the special counsel’s latitude to complete his essential work and by extension on the rule of law.'” Democrats are, as a result, calling on Sessions’s replacement, Matthew Whitaker, a Trump loyalist, to recuse himself from the investigation. Before his appointment, Whitaker criticized the special counsel investigation.
Progressive groups around the nation are planning to protest Sessions’s firing and Whitaker’s appointment. The organizing group is called MoveOn, and they have issued their “red line alert,” saying that Trump has crossed a red line. The organization had previously set up a rapid response protest plan in the event that Mueller was fired. They believe Whitaker’s appointment has triggered those protests:
BREAKING: PROTESTS CALLED FOR THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 5 PM LOCAL TIME
Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel’s Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as special counsel Robert Mueller’s boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation. Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it. The Nobody Is Above the Law network demands that Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation. Our hundreds of response events are being launched to demonstrate the public demand for action to correct this injustice. We will update this page as the situation develops.
More politics.Read More
There’s a lot going on with the new Sabrina series. Some watch it and focus on its feminist themes, either positively or negatively. Actual practitioners of Wicca, Hoodoo, and other kinds of ritual magic don’t much care for the show. They believe that it puts them in a bad light, since they are trying to fight the “black magic” or “dark magic” stereotypes that plague them. That may or may not be true. That’s not the point of this article. Instead, I’m interested in how much about perceived witchcraft the show got right.
According to Norman Cohn’s Europe’s Inner Demons, notions of a pact with the devil––Sabrina’s “Book of the Beast” goes back some time, as far as the 4th century in which a member of the church allegedly made a deal with the devil but was saved from it miraculously. Another such case involved a man from the Byzantine Empire during Justinian’s rule who also experienced miraculous intervention to free him of the deal. Montanism, a stricter, old-school Christianity, was gradually viewed with suspicion by the mainstream Christians. In the mid 4th and 5th centuries, Montanists were accused of cannibalism. Augustine similarly accused the Manichaeans of orgies. The devil worshipping sect stereotype was in place by 1100, but there’s no evidence that any group actually did this. That’s very important to keep in mind: there is no evidence to suggest that there was ever any witch covens, meetings, or devil-worshipping sessions. So this show is not trying to portray any real group of demons. Instead, it’s playing off the stereotypes about witches that Europeans believed to be true.
There are a ton of little details about witchcraft belief in the show. It was widely believed that witches kept familiars, that they could fly, that they could convince mortals to do whatever they wanted (like swing a sword wildly?), they they were involved in demon possession, and so on.
It also cites an almost impossible number of horror references.
And for a fun snippet about hunting witches, see this from Puritan minister Cotton Mather’s Wonders of the Invisible World:
“…there have been ways of trying Witches long used in many Nations, especially in the dark times of Paganism and Popery, which the righteous God never approved of.” Those shoddy methods were an invention of the devil designed to condemn innocents. All of these methods are magical and superstitious: “scratching the Witch, or seething the Urine of the Bewitched Person, or making a Witch-cake with that Urine: And that tryal of putting their hands into scalding Water….sticking an Awl under the Seat of the suspected party…casting them on the Water, to try whether they will sink or swim…”Read More
Johann Rehbogen has been accused in participating in hundreds of murders at the Stutthof concentration camp. Rehbogen claims that he has no knowledge of what was happening at the camps. This article is not about the details of the trial, or even how Rehbogen could make such a claim. Instead, it centers on a question that many of us ask when we learn about the Holocaust: how could seemingly normal people participate in such atrocities? I’m going to focus on a group of people who should have been particularly opposed to the genocide, but who instead actively participated in them: doctors.
Few people realize that the Nazis used medicine to legitimate their anti-Semitism by identifying themselves as doctor and Germany as patient. Nineteen-thirties Germany was sick, the Nazis claimed. The symptoms were obvious to any German citizen: rampant inflation, foreign occupation, and the bitter sting of the WWI defeat.
Good doctors do not treat individual symptoms. Rather, they treat the root cause. Rassenhygiene (“racial hygiene”) was the source: a weakened “germ plasm,” what we would not call a gene pool. In April of 1933, Hitler charged the doctors of Germany with the racial health of their nation. The state established training centers designed to equip doctors with the tools necessary to treat the entire German race. As a result, doctors became indoctrinated with the ideology Rassenhygiene. They become convinced that the health of their nation required certain sacrifices––amputations, as it were. Scholars refer to the medicalization of killing as “As If Medicine.”
Almost every step in march towards genocide was saturated in medical jargon. The roots of the Holocaust trace back to Nazi initiatives to cleanse their gene pool from within. The first victims were children with severe birth defects or genetic conditions. The “Reich Committee for the Scientific Registration of Severe Hereditary Ailments,” an entirely fake organized designed to disguise the child-murder operation, selected children for death. The order was handed down euphemistically as an “authorization” to “treat” the child. Selected children were to be sent to fictional medical centers with names like “Children’s Specialty Institutions (or Departments)” or “Therapeutic Convalescent Institutions.” In reality, though, the children were distributed amongst ordinary pediatric wards sympathetic to Nazi goals. Letters encouraged reluctant parents to allow transfer of their children in order to grant them the best treatment available; when parents finally consented, children were kept under the pretense of medical observation for a few weeks and finally killed.
The infamous T4 group also relied on “As If” justifications. Killing centers were set up, to which patients were sent via the “Common Welfare Ambulance Service Ltd.,” often driven by SS men dressed as medical professionals. The actual murder was committed by a doctor. The act was referred to as Desinfiziert (“decontamination”), and the perpetrator was called Euthanasiearzt (“euthanasia physician).
Participants kept a medical facade even during the implementation of the Final Solution at the concentration camps. When victims entered the camps, they were “selected” by a doctor. Often, a Red Cross truck was conspicuously parked in view of the victims, giving them a false sense of security. The gas chambers were carefully crafted to look like they were part of a medical procedure and impeccably clean. Even amongst themselves, doctors used “As If” language, allowing them to pretend as though they weren’t committing murders, but instead doing a medical procedure.
Most of the doctors who participated in the killings were not secret psychopaths. They were inundated with the ideology of racial hygiene––with racism. They were so saturated with this kind of thinking that they changed their whole way of seeing the world, re-calibrated their moral compasses, and engaged in horrific acts.
Mark Twain once said that history may not repeat itself, but it definitely rhymes. There is no genocide in modern America, but we do see mass shootings, individual shootings, and political partisanship all rooted in ideology. Nazi doctors highlight just how extreme the effects of ideology can be. We should remember that as we find ourselves attracted to the various “isms” we’re faced with in modern America, including but not limited to liberalism and conservatism.Read More
The Grievance Studies have been making the rounds on both liberal and conservative media outlets, with predictable differences in interpretations. Before we dive into what we think the significance of the studies is––and more importantly, what it is isn’t––let’s talk background.
If you’d rather watch a two-hour podcast about it, you can watch Joe Rogan’s interview with the perpetrators of the hoax:
Here’s a short intro if you don’t want to watch the podcast (or if you don’t trust it, which you shouldn’t).
What is the “hoax”?
Basically, three people submitted twenty articles to academic journals. All of these articles were fake––they contained no real research, statistical or otherwise. The articles were also within the fields of Gender and Sexuality Studies or Women and Gender Studies (though these go by different names at different universities). The articles were intentionally caricatures of articles that might appear in such journals, meaning they made arguments about so-called identity politics ad absurdum. For example, they took large swaths of Hitler’s Mein Kampf and replaced the word “Jews” with “white males,” added some theory, et voilà an article about “intersectional feminism” is born. Or they pretended to find a link between the way straight males raise dogs and “rape culture”––in that case, an award-winning article was born.
So of the twenty bogus articles that were submitted, seven were accepted and four were published.
What does it take to get an academic article published?
Publishing an academic article is very challenging. It takes a scholar anywhere from one year to several years to complete one good article, including research and writing. Once the article is in good shape, the author submits the article to an academic journal that publishes similar pieces. An editor reads the article to see if it fits with the kind of material the journal publishes.If not, it’s dead in the water. If so, she or he sends it to anonymous readers for evaluation. There are usually three readers who are experts in the relevant field, and they tell the editor that the piece is great and can be immediately published, that it needs work before publication, or that it likely can never be published.
It’s important to understand that readers are not assuming that articles are faked. The vast, vast, vast majority of scholars don’t fake data for the simple reason that most of them love what they do. Even if they were tempted being busted faking studies, outcomes, or anything is a career-ruiner. Put simply, few people would go through the trouble to fake articles and readers, as a result, wouldn’t expect it.
What were the hoaxers trying to do?
According to the hoaxers themselves, their goal was to expose flaws within the academy. They hoped that publishing ridiculous articles filled with jargon and fake data would prove that academics are so biased that they would simply approve anything that fit their ideological agenda. As a result, they were hoping to expose inherent political or ideological biases. That the fake articles actually got published confirms, for them, that “The Academy” has become a far-left echo chamber.
Did they accomplish what they set out to?
According to urban legend, someone once asked Chinese official Zhou Enlai what he thought the effects of the French Revolution were. Although more than a century had passed, he replied, “Too soon to tell.” I’m invoking a similar answer here. I think it is too soon to tell if the “Grievance Studies” actually highlighted anything about the state of “The Academy.” That’s partly because academics themselves are still reacting, and the reactions are split. That’s also because the way “The Academy” looks today is not how it will look tomorrow, and I’m very hesitant to say what that change will look like. Most of the reactions to the hoax are too overblown and partisan to make much of now. The best opinion comes from the New York Times:
The problem is not that philosophers, historians or English professors are interested in, say, questions of how gender or racial identity or bias are expressed in culture or thought. Gender and racial identity are universally present and vitally important across all the areas that the humanities study and hence should be central concerns.
The problem, rather, is that scholars who study these questions have been driven into sub-specializations that are not always seen as integral to larger fields or to the humanities as a whole. Sometimes they have been driven there by departments that are reluctant to accept them; sometimes they have been driven there by their own conviction that they alone have the standing to investigate these topics.
In either case, because graduate students and junior faculty members in the humanities are expected to produce journal articles and citations much in the way graduate students and junior faculty members in the sciences are, and because they are discouraged by tenure committees and sometimes by their own ideological provincialism from thinking broadly and connecting their work to larger questions of universal relevance, there is an increasing incentive to publish in journals with narrow purviews that are read by correspondingly few scholars. The proliferation of journals that few people are invested in, along with the pressure to produce ever greater numbers of articles, leads to more work being published with fewer safeguards guaranteeing its quality.
Furthermore, hyper-specialization in the humanities means that the very people who should be thinking broadly about culture and ideas, and teaching students to encounter and engage with a variety of positions and opinions, are becoming accustomed to defining their interests in the narrowest possible terms. They read and exchange ideas in hermetic academic bubbles, in very much the same way that the public has increasingly tended to read and exchange ideas in hermetic news bubbles.
So perhaps the hoax has accomplished something, but not what its creators intended. Rather that point out bias or ideologues within “The Academy,” it also pointed out structural flaws. William Egginton’s NYT commentary is spot on, there. There’s one more thing that needs to be added though.
Why do you keep using scare quotes around The Academy?
Phrases like capital-T “The Academy” and “Ivory Tower” impart the very false notion that academics are of one mind about, well, anything. They’re not. And one of the important things to consider is that academics differ on their own relationship with the political sphere. Hard-line historians, for example, believe that their work is purely documentary and objective. Other fields are more interested in direct political action. The Grievance Studies Hoax is a great reminder that there are a spectrum of opinions on politics and political ideologies within the academy. Targeting Gender Studies, as they did, in order to expose them as political should be shocking to precisely no one. The problem is one of perspective. The hoaxers think that the academy should be one thing, and their critics think otherwise. Here’s the good news: academics have a variety of opinions about this. The upshot, then, is that the hoax does not pull the mask of some hidden liberal agenda. Instead, it reminds us that the academy still has––as it almost always has––diverse opinions about political engagement. In other words, there’s nothing new under the sun.
Teslas running on “autopilot” keep crashing. And crashing. And crashing. Despite the crashes, people continue to buy Teslas and run them on autopilot without a thought. Despite the multiple fatalities that have occurred from drivers turning on autopilot and the mentally checking out, Tesla defends the technology. According to a spokesperson:
“Tesla has always been clear that Autopilot doesn’t make the car impervious to all accidents and the issues described by Thatcham won’t be a problem for drivers using Autopilot correctly. The feedback that we get from our customers shows that they have a very clear understanding of what Autopilot is, how to properly use it, and what features it consists of. When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times. This is designed to prevent driver misuse, and is among the strongest driver-misuse safeguards of any kind on the road today.”
This is the video the company referred to:
So the issue actually is not with the technology. As is the case with so many things, the issue is with the user. In this case, users employ autopilot just as its name might suggest. It’s their fault, in other words, for trusting the name “autopilot,” which conjures up so many images of a self-driving car. They should be more careful. That is definitely a valid point on Tesla’s part.
Or they could change the name. A few letters would do the trick: copilot. You could give it a quirky name like Siri or Alexa. Maybe you could call it Nikola, in homage to the real Tesla. Maybe you could call it Tommy, a little prod at Nikola Tesla’s rival Thomas Edison. Who’s second string now, Tom?!
But no. That’s not going to happen, because Tesla, following in Elon Musk’s intellectual footsteps, is cashing in on the technological utopian vision the company was built on. The name “Copilot” doesn’t imply the grandiose, world-changing product that fits into the company’s myth of itself. And make no mistake, myth is part of what they’re selling.
The situation is a bit like the recent news about a Jehovah’s Witness family that refused to give their child a blood transfusion despite a court order. I know, it sounds bananas, but hear me out. This Jehovah’s Witness article got 22.2 thousand upvotes on Reddit, and garnered over 2,500 comments––most of which berated the parents for being dogmatic morons (I’m paraphrasing, and believe it or not I’ve toned down the sentiment). So many people immediately wrote these parents off for having faith that God would heal their child, if only they let go and allowed it. After all, it’s in the name––God. It’s what God does, right? He does the impossible. No, say many outsiders, that’s ridiculous and the whole religion is a cult.
Meanwhile, Tesla knowingly uses a misleading name for their product––one that implies total autonomy––but says that its users should be more discerning. At the same time, it sells a myth of a technological utopia. It is, in the words of Forbes, an “aspirational brand.” And so users who hope for a better future and want to participate in its creation buy the car and use it as they’ve been led to believe it would work. And some die as a result.
That’s an intense––and narrow!––analogy, I know. But my point is equally narrow: companies use quasi-religious ideas (mythologized pasts, utopian futures, miraculous results, and so on) to exploit consumers.Read More
In early December of 2016, a very confused young man entered a Washington D.C. pizzeria armed with an assault rifle. He was there to investigate a conspiracy about a child prostitution/political corruption ring being run through the restaurant. The #pizzagate conspiracy was originally stoked by conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and with the help of social media the conspiracy led to violence. In the year or two after the #pizzagate conspiracy died down, critics focused their blame on on Alex Jones and the ultra-ring-wing conspiracy crowd like him. But in the past few months, more people are beginning to blame the internet itself as much as conspiracy.
The recent tragedy in Pittsburgh has brought the dangers of conspiracy, and conspiracy laden politics, back to the forefront of the national discussion. As we have argued in another post, however, this is nothing new–– conspiracies have always been a part of American politics. The Pittsburgh killer was deeply immersed in conspiracy, as this Vox article points out. But Vox misses what other news outlets have began to discuss: the roll of the internet.
In a recent interview on NPR, reporter Will Sommer describes how some alt-right websites channel conspiracies from the fringe to the mainstream. Sommer uses the example of a the migrant caravan:
“Sure. So for example, I mean, the most obvious example right now is the caravan – the so-called caravan coming out of Honduras. This is the idea that this was some big menace, you know, an invading horde is something that really sort of bubbled up on sort of the darkest edges of the right-wing Internet with a lot of sort of hoaxes behind it. And, you know, they’ve kind of been pushing this idea for a couple months now. And it’s only really this month that it’s caught on, so much so that the president is now sending troops to fight off this sort of nonexistent invasion.”
Websites like 4chan, Reddit, Facebook, and Twitter all become embroiled in this kind of conspiracy channeling. The Boston Globe has likewise pointed out that hate is spreading on the internet, and internet platforms can’t halt it. Sometimes it’s not as thought these platforms don’t want to stop it, it’s that it can be difficult, or even impossible, to delineate between political speech and hate speech across thousands of posts.
The downside is horrible, of course. The flood of hate speech on the internet normalizes it, The more we get used to the kind of hateful dialogue we see online, the easier it is to dehumanize our enemies, and the easier it is for those of us who are particularly unhinged to turn to violence. The internet, as one New York Times op-ed puts it, “will be the death of us.”
More about technology.Read More
In the past month or so, the media has latched onto the notion that civil war may be brewing once more in the United States. Extreme partisan outlets have actually advocated for breaking up the nation before the inevitable bloodshed. Some outlets see the shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue as further evidence that war is …Read More
The 2018 elections haven’t even happened yet––although early voting is finished in most states––and it’s already shaping up to be a right old mess. But don’t worry, this isn’t a Chicken Little, doom-and-gloom article claiming that this is the death rattle of the American Experiment, democracy, or the West as we know it. We’ll leave …Read More
In 2010, an illiterate Christian farmhand named Asia Bibi got into an argument with a Muslim neighbor. It’s hard to tell exactly what happened, because the inciting incident has become something of a legend. The gist of the situation appears to be that Bibi drank water from the same cup that her Muslim neighbors were about …Read More
The #MeToo movement has undoubtedly had a massive impact on American society. It might take decades to determine exactly what kinds of changes resulted from #MeToo. But a recent NPR-Ipsos Poll reveals that Americans are divided on the #MeToo movement. But the divide isn’t along the lines you might think. You might assume that it’s based on gender, but it’s not. Rather, Americans are (perhaps unsurprisingly) split based on political party. Here are some interesting takeaways from the study:
69 percent of the more than 1,000 Americans surveyed say the #MeToo movement has forged a climate of accountability among offenders. On the other hand, 40 percent of those surveyed feel that #MeToo has gone too far.
But that data is skewed based on partisan differences. Only 21 percent of Democrats said that the #MeToo movement has gone too far, but 75 percent of Republicans said that it has gone too far. Compare this gap to that between the sexes: only 36 percent of women say it’s gone too far but 51 percent of men say that it’s gone too far.
When it comes to the question of false accusations, the divide is even more stark. A whopping 77 percent of Republicans believe that false sexual assault accusations are common. Only 37 percent of Democrats think that those are common.
On a similar note, about 85 percent of Democrats believe that victims should be given the benefit of the doubt, while just 67 percent of Republicans believe that.
85 percent of Democrats agree that alleged victims of sexual assault should get the benefit of the doubt, while 67 percent of Republicans agree.
The #MeToo movement sheds further light on the growing partisan divide in the country. You have probably noticed on your Facebook feed or even in your friend groups that logic and reason has taken a back seat to us-versus-them politics and extreme discussion. By extreme discussions, I mean the kind of discussion in which the participants feel, for whatever reason, that they have to tend to the extreme end of their side of the argument. So instead of listening to each other, or instead of trying to get to the truth of whatever matter is under discussion, the participants end up painting each other, and themselves, into corners.
The #MeToo movement has done excellent work to bring sexual predators to justice, we shouldn’t forget that. But we also shouldn’t forget that this movement is about justice, not about extremes. It’s about humanizing the victims of sexual assault, not about dehumanizing the people across the aisle.Read More
The Tree of Life Synagogue shooting did not just happen. Anti-Semitism, which many Americans consider a thing of the past, is sadly on the rise. Make no mistake––anti-Semitism never truly disappeared. The Ku Klux Klan and other overtly white supremacist groups have kept that hateful ideology alive. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism had become, by the early 2000s, an underground phenomenon. According to experts on the subjects, anti-Semitism comes in waves. One Holocaust scholar, Deborah E. Lipstadt of Emory University, said in an interview with the New York Times that right now is the worst anti-Semitism has ever been in America, and it’s cropping up now because we, as a nation, are undergoing a period of tremendous stress.
Professor Lipstadt is right: we are undergoing a period of tremendous national stress. More Americans feel partisan strife is tearing our nation apart than at any point since the Civil War. According to the same New York Times article,
What has changed, said several experts in interviews, is that conspiracy theories and “dog whistles” that resonate with anti-Semites and white supremacists are being circulated by establishment sources, including the president and members of Congress. Bizarre claims about Jews have moved from the margins to the establishment.
Conspiracy theories about George Soros, a wealthy Democratic Party donor and Hungarian Jewish émigré, are an example of such anti-Semitism. Soros was among those who had pipe bombs sent to him.
But that’s not the only thing causing an uptick in anti-Semitism. Social media is a major problem––and more specifically, bots on social media. According to a study by the Anti-Defamation League, nearly 30% of anti-Semitic attacks on social media come from bots. From the NPR article
The study reports that while human users still account for the majority of derogatory Twitter traffic in the lead-up to the midterm elections, “political bots—which explicitly focus on political communication online—are playing a significant role in artificially amplifying derogatory content over Twitter about Jewish people.”
Here’s the scary part: we have no idea, yet, who is running these bots. Are they the aforementioned conspiracy theorists? Or are they white supremacists? Possibly. Another possibility that we should be very concerned about is that foreign actors are, once again, attempting to disrupt the American way of life through ideological manipulation. This happened before, just look at the 2016 election.
The onus to change cannot be on the users of social media or the victims of harassment. Individual users cannot, no matter how hard they try, police these bad actors through social media sites’ report functions. Social media companies need to far more responsibility for policing the kind of people that use their sites and the ways in which they use them. They need to take more steps to make sure that humans––and not bots––are using their sites and sharing or spreading content. Social media companies have opened a pandora’s box for their own profit, and American democracy is suffering the consequences.Read More
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