Crowd Control

“They have mutated human communication, so that connecting people has too often become about pitting them against one another, and turbocharged that discord to an unprecedented and damaging volume. They have weaponized social media. They have weaponized the First Amendment. They have weaponized civic discourse. And they have weaponized, most of all, politics.” In her debut NYT column, Kara Swisher reflects on how social media became something so different from what everyone in Silicon Valley thought we were building. The Expensive Education of Mark Zuckerberg and Silicon Valley. Here’s my take: In general, the tech industry is plagued by the idea that people who are experts on one thing (building really viral, social products) are, by extension, also experts on everything else. Every major social network has been afraid to admit one thing: We don’t know how to fix this by ourselves. We need the community to help. We the people are not just “users.” We are Twitter. We are Facebook. We’re deeply invested in keeping these networks from either being ruined or ruining us.

+ “The company’s singular focus on ‘connecting people’ has allowed it to conquer the world, making possible the creation of a vast network of human relationships, a source of insights and eyeballs that makes advertisers and investors drool. But the imperative to ‘connect people’ lacks the one ingredient essential for being a good citizen: Treating individual human beings as sacrosanct.” Nikhil Sonnad in Quartz: Everything bad about Facebook is bad for the same reason.

+ Why are we spending so much time talking about tech companies? Two reasons: First, this is where we live now. Second, as evidenced by Apple’s trillion dollar valuation, we’ve entered an era when a very small number of companies have a very big reach into everything from our psyches to our pocketbooks (which they’ve already replaced with digital payment apps). The NYT’s Matt Phillips: Apple’s $1 Trillion Milestone Reflects Rise of Powerful Megacompanies.

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