Cory Doctorow comments on a recent Atlantic article on QAnon - a nebulous web of personalities and conspiracy theories revolving round the anonymous postings on 4chan of a contributor known only as Q. The thrust of the Atlantic article, says Doctorow, is that the algorithms originally for marketing and advertising are now being used to promote conspiracy theories. Maybe. Doctorow has an alternative explanation, though: "What Big Tech does VERY well, however, is find people... This isn't a persuasive miracle, it's just spying." Just so, the technology helps people on the fringe find each other. The big question is, why are so many people susceptible to conspiracy theories? Doctorow responds: "because so many of the things that have traumatized so many people ARE conspiracies." All this makes the wider point, to my mind, that people learn from everything we do, so if we want better education for our children, we need to become a better society. See also: What ARGs can teach us about QAnon via Metafilter.
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