WeeklyTech #118

3 words that will shape digital culture for good and cultivate virtue in the public square

It happens like clockwork. Often within a few moments of breaking news or some other major event happening in our culture, we see one of the most damaging effects of social media and digital culture. Our feeds are immediately filled with “expert” opinions, half-baked ideas, and reactionary takes that routinely fail to account for the reality of the situation and resort to partisan or cultural talking points. In these moments, it seems that everyone we know has a take on what is happening. It’s tempting to join in as we seek to align ourselves with the “right” tribe or group online.

The internet was originally promised to be a major turning point in the pursuit of truth and free expression. We were told that the democratization of information would usher in a new era of freedom and emphasis on truth. The idea is that the truth would naturally rise above the fray given the freedom of information and a common pursuit of truth. But along with this pursuit came an onslaught of fake news, misinformation, and opinions based on feeling and emotion.

The Rundown

The media’s epic fail – Sara Fischer | Axios

It’s one of the most egregious journalistic errors in modern history, and the media’s response to its own mistakes has so far been tepid.

Facebook removes ad targeting for ‘sensitive’ topics like health, sex, politics and religion – Anna Kramer | Protocol

Facebook will remove the ability for detailed targeting of ads for “sensitive” topics, including politics, health and religion, among other things, in a move that mirrors a similar ban for Facebook users under 18.

The business of privacy is booming – Ina Fried and Sara Fischer | Axios

Investors and consumers show growing enthusiasm for privacy-focused alternatives to Google and Facebook amid renewed scrutiny over the real cost of their “free” services.

YouTube announces it will no longer show dislike counts on videos – Aisha Counts | Protocol

On YouTube, viewers will no longer see how many people disliked a video. YouTube announced on Wednesday via its blog that the platform is rolling out a new feature to make the dislike count private. The change will take effect gradually starting Wednesday.

The Bizarre Travis Scott Claims Show That Conspiracies Are Just How We Process Things – Ali Breland | Mother Jones

As conspiracy theories have become a lingua franca among certain sets, allowing them make order out of disorder–particularly the chaos and economic disruption of the pandemic, more and more conspiracists look like relatively normal people moving through the world and then going online and posting surreal things.

ERLC urges Biden to include faith input on AI – Tom Strode | Baptist Press

The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has encouraged President Biden to include the input of evangelical Christian and other faith leaders in the federal government’s work on the use of artificial intelligence and other issues in technology ethics.