Truth and Bullshit

Joking about sexual harassment on LinkedIn; what Twitter can learn from Wikipedia about bots; and more.

  • Wired’s Lauren Smiley profiles some of the progressive techies in Silicon Valley that have gone all in on politics.

  • “The nightmare scenario is Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, and Sheryl Sandberg standing at a congressional table with their hands raised in the air like the tobacco people,” Jonathan Taplin, director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at USC, tells Wired’s Nitasha Tiku, comparing the upcoming November 1 testimony from Big Tech to the 1994 televised hearing where tobacco executives testified that cigarettes are not addictive.

  • Writing for The Outline, Molly Sauter reviews Tim O’Reilly’s new book WTF: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up To Us, describing it as “a memoir/business text/techno-utopian polemic that gestures at a revolutionary future while endorsing existing Silicon Valley systems and excusing their part in creating economic and social strife.” She catches him using some tragically appropriate metaphors, like describing his work as providing “picks and shovels” to the Silicon Valley gold rush (alluding, of course, to the environmentally-destructive, inequality-creating 1850s Gold Rush) and comparing Uber’s service delivery to running water (when water bills could become too expensive for a third of U.S. homes in just five years, and when Flint, Michigan, hasn’t had safe drinking water since 2014).

  • Two prominent VCs outed this year for alleged sexual harassment are making cracks about their behavior on LinkedIn, April Glaser reports for Slate.

  • Life in Facebookistan: Writing for Just Security, Ryan Goodman and Justin Hendrix argue that Facebook users have a Right to Know how they were exposed to Russian propaganda, just like consumers have a right to know when they are exposed to toxic chemicals or other pollutants.

  • Daisuke Wakabayashi and Nicholas Confessore report for The New York Times on how YouTube fed the growth of the Russian news channel RT, and how that relationship is coming under increased scrutiny in light of the 2016 election.

  • James Comey has begun tweeting from his secret Twitter account under the name Reinhold Niebuhr, Michelle Boorstein reports for The Washington Post.

  • Robert Gorwa explains for Quartz how Wikipedia’s solution for dealing with bots could be put to use by Twitter.

  • Media matters: Kurt Wagner reports for Recode that news publishers might have to start paying Facebook for anyone to see their stories, because Facebook is testing a system in which all posts from publishers and brands go to a second, hard-to-find newsfeed called “Explore.”

  • In the six countries where the system has been tested, including Slovakia, Serbia, and Sri Lanka, publications have reported a 60 – 80 percent drop in page engagement, Alex Hern reports for The Guardian.

  • Politico’s Jack Shafer pens a defense of fake news. “I hate disinformation, but I tend not to fear it, putting my faith in the power of honest discourse to undo the mischief-makers in the long run,” Shafer writes. “Bring on both truth and bullshit, I say—and trust individuals to do the sorting. I abhor paternalism, whether it comes from a coercive government or an internet power like Google and Facebook that think it should shield me from all incorrect thinking.”