18 April 2019

The Youtube Rabbit Hole Game

Here’s a new game we can all play. The rules are simple: Log out from YouTube and clear your cookies, so you’re viewing the site as some anonymous person it knows nothing about. Go to the front page, and pick a totally innocuous video from its recommendations. Clicking only on recommended videos in the sidebar on the right, see how quickly you can get steered to either white nationalism, or mad conspiracy theories. ... Read more

24 March 2019

Medicare for All

Right now there are a bunch of competing proposals for how to create a universal healthcare system for the USA. People are starting to talk about which 2020 candidates support which schemes, and who to support in the Democratic primaries based on that information. In particular, Beto O’Rourke has been criticized for not backing Medicare for All, and instead backing a scheme called Medicare for America. Based on my experience of UK public and private healthcare, and US HMOs and other health insurance, I have some strong opinions about what a good healthcare system should look like. ... Read more

8 February 2019

Social networks: What if there's no right answer?

In recent articles I’ve talked about what’s wrong with social networking and some ways I think we might improve it. This week I saw a Twitter thread about a Facebook group with a few hundred members that was being used to organize harassment campaigns. Then came the news that private Facebook groups were spreading the conspiracy theory that Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in a coma, or even dead and being replaced with an impostor. ... Read more

13 January 2019

How to mend life?

In the previous article I talked about some of the history of social media, and identified 14 pervasive problems of today’s online social networks: Addiction to social media Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) and the negative psychological consequences Pervasive annoying advertising Privacy invasion to justify advertising spend and allow microtargeting Spread of extremism through engagement maximization Spread of propaganda through microtargeting Funding of extremism through automated advertising ... Read more

10 January 2019

WWW: What Went Wrong?

The Internet sucks. This is something that pretty much everyone seems to agree on to some extent. Somewhere along the way, things went seriously awry. The result has been a series of news stories of the Internet’s impact on the real world that are hard to distinguish from the dystopian nightmares of science fiction.v Social media has been a big part of many of these nightmares. WhatsApp triggering lynchings in India. ... Read more

© mathew 2017