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Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

Structural Stupidity

Leeway, Metafilter, May 02, 2022

This Metafilter thread links to what the author says is "a solid summary of why algorithmically-driven social media is harmful to common culture and democracy itself, ending with a few ideas about what can be done to course correct." Now I'm no fan of the misuse to which the algorithm is put, as readers know, but I reject the conclusion that it is social media that is the cause of division in society. Ask yourself whether the same degree of division were it not for very well-funded traditional news sources - and in particular cable news - being used to undermine the notion of fact and evidence. I mean, think about it. When Jonathan Haidt says "it's that fake and outrage-inducing content can now attain a level of reach and influence that was not possible before 2009" I have to ask, has he not learned from the examples of Hearst, Goebbels and Rwanda? The problem isn't the media. It's the hate. And the way we allow people with enough money, whatever the media, to spread that hate.

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